C-Diff campaigners, sisters-in-law Michelle Stewart and Helen McGinty picked up the prestigious Public Campaign of the Year title at the Herald Politician of the Year awards, and promptly dedicated it to all the families and friends of the Vale of Leven victims.
Radio Journalist Colin Mackay who hosted the event told the audience of top politicians, media figures and business leaders:
“This is an especially important award because it recognises those who engage most effectively with the political system.”
Actress Kathryn Howden who recently filled the title role in ‘The Last Witch’ at the Edinburgh Festival presented the award to Michelle and Helen.
Sarah McGinty who was Helen’s mother and Michelle’s mother in law was one of the 18 patients who died in the C-Diff outbreak at the Vale of Leven.
Michelle said: You don’t realise how much an award like this means till you actually hold it.
“We are very proud to have won it and to accept it on behalf of all our family and friends who have suffered in the Vale.”
“We’ve been campaigning on C-Diff for over a year. We don’t believe there is any one person to blame.
“But we need to find out what went wrong in the systems that were supposed to be in place, that allowed this outbreak to run rampant at the Vale of Leven for six months”.
“We have always been clear that we don’t want to scapegoat nurses or other medical staff, and that only a public inquiry can really get to the bottom of why this infection was able to get such a hold and claim so many lives.
“Now that we have a public inquiry we hope that its findings will ensure that our hospitals are safer places for everyone.”
Helen said: “We want to thank everyone who supported us, and particularly our local MSP Jackie Baillie and our lawyer Patrick McGuire.”
Jackie Baillie who only hours earlier had continued to raise the issue by reading fellow MSPs a letter from the family of one of the victims of the most recent outbreak of C-Diff at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital said:
“I am really delighted for Michelle, Helen and all the others in the C-Diff Justice Group who have put in so much hard work on this campaign.
“It’s been a real privilege for me as their MSP to what I could to help them on the political front, but they are the ones with passion and determination to get to the bottom of C-Diff scandal.
“They richly deserve the Public Campaign of the Year title.”
Patrick McGuire of Thompsons Solicitors, the C-Diff Justice Group’s solicitor said: “This was a text book campaign, which used every part of the political process but their greatest strength was the clarity of their objectives.
“They were totally clear that they wanted a public inquiry, not for themselves, or even the loved ones they lost, but to identify and address the underlying issues and prevent it happening again.
“Even when Nicola Sturgeon eventually announced a public inquiry they refused to let matters rest till she agreed to widen its remit to include ‘experiences within and beyond Scotland’.
“They are a shining example of what ordinary people with no political experience can achieve.”