Negative Pressure Review Reports No Risk to Patients

An expert clinical review into patient safety issues arising from concerns about negative pressure rooms raised by the Director of Public Health for Norwich Primary Care Trust has today reported that patients, staff or visitors have not been exposed to any additional risk.

The clinical review comes after the Trust board of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital last month ordered an inquiry by experts into the provision and specification of special negative pressure rooms at NNUH following concerns about their functionality.

The clinicians reviewed all possible risks since Jan 2002 and concluded:

  • the hospital has appropriate infection control policies and these appear to have been followed
  • there has been no excess risk to patients, staff or visitors and the overall risk is very low
  • there have been three patients with single-drug resistant TB who were managed appropriately with usual barrier nursing procedures.
  • the routine follow up procedures for patients who might have been exposed to risk prior to diagnosis have been followed and are continuing and no cases have been found.
  • Norfolk is a low incidence area for TB.

David Wright, non-executive director of the NNUH Trust who is chairing the inquiry, said: “Clearly it has been a matter of urgency that we establish what risks, if any, patients, staff or the public may have faced following the concerns raised. The considered opinion of all the clinicians involved in the clinical review strongly indicates no excess risk to patients or public and this evidence is being reviewed by the independent microbiologist on the panel of the inquiry and will inform the overall conclusion of the inquiry”

The inquiry continues into the issues surrounding the provision and specification of negative pressure facilities and any impact on patients, visitors or staff. The inquiry membership includes a non-executive director from another acute NHS Trust and an independent microbiologist. Independent expert mechanical and technical advice has also been commissioned. The inquiry will produce an interim report in June.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is currently the only hospital in Norfolk or Suffolk to have high-spec negative pressure rooms for the treatment of respiratory medicine patients with highly infectious diseases such as multiple drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB).

Two rooms on the hospital's respiratory ward have carefully monitored negative pressure that prevents air inside the room from flowing out to the ward and thus reduces the chances of infection spreading. Normal protocols for handling potentially highly infectious people have been operational at all times since the hospital has opened keeping the risk to a minimum.

The clinical review was undertaken by Dr Tony Jewell, Director of Public Health, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority, Sandra Betterton, Chief Nurse NSC SHA, Dr John Bailey, Consultant for Communicable Disease Control, Norfolk Health Protection Unit, Dr John Battersby, Director of Public Health for Southern Norfolk PCT, Dr Iain Brooksby, Medical Director, NNUH, Dr Richard Gair, Health Protection Agency, Dr Norman Pinder, Clinical Governance lead for NSC SHA, Dr Judith Richards, consultant microbiologist and director of infection control, NNUH, Judy Doylend, infection control nurse, NNUH, and Dr Simon Watkin, clinical director for respiratory medicine at NNUH.

Media contact: Andrew Stronach on 01603 287200

Note: The membership and terms of reference for the review are available on request on Norwich 287200

Thursday 13th of May 2004 05:00:27 PM