Wales: E. coli lessons ‘were not learned’

The families of the 150 sickened and one killed in the 2005 E. coli O157 outbreak in Wales told a public inquiry today it was "galling" that lessons from other outbreaks were not learned and that the events caused "lasting and untold harm" to many families.

Mark Powell QC (no relation but a fine Welsh name), representing the families, said warnings had not been heeded following an E.coli outbreak in Scotland between 1996 and 1997 which left 21 elderly people dead.

"It is galling to the families that many of the observations the Sheriff’s inquiry, with the substitution of the name of Tudor for that of Barr, the butcher involved in that outbreak, could be written about the 2005 outbreak. Much of what was said then could equally be said now."

The inquiry, chaired by Professor Hugh Pennington, who also chaired an inquiry following the 1996 outbreak in Scotland, is hearing final submissions on Wednesday and Thursday.

It was as if the report following the Scottish outbreak was never written, he told Professor Pennington, adding, "The families are determined that in 10 year’s time, the same might not be said of your inquiry."

The inquiry’s findings and any recommendations are not expected to be published until later this year.