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– Campaign group comments on latest UK Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

Patrick McGuire, PartnerVictims of the Legionnaires disease outbreak that gripped Edinburgh over the summer have spoken out over alleged institutional failings that have resulted in two separate outbreaks of the disease in the UK this summer.

The Legionnaires Disease Scotland campaign group harbours serious concerns over the ability of the Scottish Government and its official bodies to identify, manage and – crucially – prevent any potential outbreaks of the disease in Scotland.

The comments follow a Government declaration that the Edinburgh outbreak – which claimed three lives – is officially over.

Helen Booth, a receptionist working in the Gorgie area, was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in June.

Helen, 59, who contacted specialist lawyers Thompsons Solicitors, said:

“Two separate outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in the UK in so many months? This is out of order.

“In Edinburgh we had three people die from it and countless others have had serious health issues because of exposure to the disease. Now I’m seeing people in Stoke-on-Trent go through the same ordeal. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

“Most outbreaks of the disease result from human error or a failure in monitoring safety systems. How many more need to die before changes are made?

“My life has been turned upside-down by this outbreak. The disease has absolutely floored me. Although I’m now back at work, I’m a shadow of my former self.

“Other members of the campaign group continue to suffer with serious health concerns.

“I’m physically sick when I think about what little is being done by our Government. The outbreak is apparently over but no-one can pinpoint the source or say what went wrong. These are very basic questions but they go unanswered.

“What we’re calling for is independent scrutiny into this debacle. Nothing short of an independent public inquiry can address our concerns.”

Another member of the campaign group, who wishes to remain anonymous, contracted Pontiac Fever – a milder form of the disease caused by the same bacteria – after she attended the Hearts Cup Final parade in May. She comments:

“The current situation is nothing short of farcical – the whole incident has been mismanaged from the very beginning and we’re still no further forward in identifying a source of the outbreak.

“My family have been worried sick about me and I’ve had to take time off work to recuperate when I really can’t afford to be doing that.

“Let’s get this in perspective: people have died because of poor management of water systems. Entirely preventable outbreaks have occurred before and now there’s another serious case of Legionnaires’ disease in Stoke-on-Trent. Lessons haven’t been learned and lives are being put in danger.”

Patrick McGuire, partner at Thompsons Solicitors who have a dedicated Legionnaire’s disease helpline (0800 081 0045) manned by the firm’s specialist lawyers, said:

“There are many factors that could have lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease – from poor quality installation and maintenance of water storage facilities to failures in assessing risk and responsibilities. What lies at the very heart of it all is human error.

“Bad practice and poor performance exacerbated by attempts to cut budgets have made an already dangerous situation potentially lethal.

“We’re committed to the objectives of the Legionnaires Disease Scotland campaign group, and we support victims of Legionnaires disease, Pontiac fever and other related health concerns in their quest for answers and action. Our expert lawyers are on-hand to provide advice and assistance to those affected by the outbreak and their families.”


Note to editors:

  • To arrange further comments/quotes from Helen Booth and/or Patrick McGuire, contact Tim Weir on 07974 262 997
  • Thompsons’ telephone helpline is 0800 081 0045 and is open from 9am until 8pm, Monday to Friday  
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