Staff at Margate’s QEQM Hospital called for Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield to issue a public apology after she mistakenly claimed traces of MRSA had been found on the skin of six babies in the neonatal unit.
Ms Duffield made the claim in a letter to Prof Ted Baker, the chief inspector of hospitals, in which she demanded he investigate east Kent hospitals trust over a number of shortcomings.
But the trust was swift to point out that the incidents of MRSA contamination from ward staff had occurred at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
And this week Anne Savage, neonatal ward manager at Margate’s QEQM Hospital, called on Ms Duffield to apologise for the error which she said had damaged the reputation of the ward and demoralised staff.
She said: “We are upset and angry about the totally wrong assertions concerning the unit. The claim that MRSA traces were found on the skin of six babies and that the unit needed to be deep cleaned.
“Quite apart from the fact this is totally untrue, this had a very damaging effect on our reputation and staff morale, as well as worrying parents needlessly.
“On the day that this news was announced we had parents who wanted to take their babies home, others wanted to be transferred to another hospital and it created chaos and confusion. In situations like this patient safety is put at risk.”
Ms Duffield, who is approaching her one-year anniversary as the constituency’s first ever Labour MP, says she has written to apologise for the mistake and blamed it on a staff typing error.
“I have since been assured by trust chief executive Susan Acott that following the traces of MRSA found at the neonatal intensive care unit of William Harvey Hospital, it has undertaken measures including deep-cleaning the unit and treating babies and their parents with skin washes,” she said.
“Happily, no babies were fully infected and following these measures I am hopeful that these high safety standards will be maintained across the trust.
“I have written personally to the ward manager of the neonatal ward at the QEQM to apologise for the mix-up.
“I’d love to visit her unit to see the excellent work the staff there do and to thank them personally for their time and dedication.”
South Thanet Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay backed staff at the Margate neonatal unit.
He said: “These claims about our local baby unit from the elected Member for Canterbury and Whitstable are as disappointing as they are false.
“Ms Duffield has not been an MP for very long, but she needs to realise that making wild accusations, without foundation, that damage and discredit our hardworking local NHS staff are unacceptable and irresponsible.”