Listeria outbreak: Black Country and Staffordshire NHS sites among those supplied with potentially affected products
Pre-packed sandwiches and salads linked to a fatal outbreak of listeria were supplied to four hospital and health trusts in the Black Country and Staffordshire, it has been revealed.
Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that The Good Food Chain supplied affected product lines to 43 NHS sites as well as an independent provider.
They included The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), which runs Stafford Hospital.
Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust are among the others listed.
The affected sandwiches and salads were withdrawn from hospitals when the links to the listeria infections were first identified.
Evidence suggests that all individuals ate the affected products before the withdrawal took place in hospitals on the May 25.
NHS organisations were also advised not to provide any Good Food Chain products to vulnerable patients.
It comes as the NHS identified nine confirmed cases of listeria at seven different hospitals around the country.
Five people are suspected to have died after eating pre-packaged sandwiches and salads linked to the same supplier, The Good Food Chain.
The deaths occurred at four different hospital trusts - two at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, one at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool, one at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust and the fifth at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
The Good Food Chain has voluntarily ceased production and an investigation into the outbreak is continuing.
The business was supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which has since tested positive for the outbreak strain of listeria and also stopped production.
Listeria infection is rare and usually causes a mild illness in healthy people.
However, it can have more serious consequences among those with pre-existing medical conditions, pregnant women and those with a weak immune system.
A spokesperson for The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust said: “As soon as we were alerted to the situation, we immediately took steps to withdraw all products supplied by The Good Food Chain company.”
Trish Rowson, acting chief nurse at UHNM, said:“Any potentially affected sandwiches were immediately withdrawn from UHNM and destroyed as soon as we became aware of the incident.
“UHNM has a robust surveillance system in place for Listeria and we have had no cases identified. Any risk to general patients and the public is very low and we will continue with heightened surveillance currently in place.”
A spokesperson for the The Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: "The Trust can confirm that The Good Food Chain Company did, in common with the vast majority of local trusts, supply salad and sandwiches to the Trust prior to May 26.
"However following notification of a problem with some of the items supplied by the company, immediate action was taken to remove all of their food items from kitchens, stores, and staff restaurants across the Trust to mitigate any associated risks.
"For clarification the Trust had no reported cases of listeria, or any other adverse reactions prior to withdrawing these products."
PHE is working very closely with the Food Standards Agency, NHS England and Improvement, as well as partner organisations in Scotland and Wales, to investigate the outbreak.
Dr Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer at the FSA said: Our sympathies remain with the families of the patients who have tragically passed away. We have taken action along with local authorities to minimise the risk based on the evidence so far.
"The FSA will continue to investigate the cause of the outbreak to prevent a reoccurrence."