MRSA Action UK tribute

The Memorial Event at Westminster Abbey
13th June 2013

The Board of Trustees of MRSA Action UK met members and friends at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 13th June 2013 for the service at the Innocent Victims Memorial Stone and laying of floral tributes. We were joined by our president, Professor Hugh Pennington, and members of Cure the NHS, whose campaigning had led to the Public Inquiry into the deaths and standards of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Hospital Trust.

The service was very moving and prayers were led by The Reverend Canon White.

Julie Bailey of patient group "Cure the NHS" and MRSA Action UK President Professor Hugh Pennington laid the charity's main wreath, made in the shape of our blue ribbon, designed and donated by Minka from Rosalie Owen's florist.

Hugh then laid a wreath in memory of John Howard Crews who died from MRSA aged 54.

Sue Spratt laid her tribute to her dear husband Fred who passed away with Clostridium difficile whilst receiving treatment in hospital. 

Sue Fallon laid her wreath in memory of dear Sammie Fallon, just 17. 

Maria Cann laid a wreath with her dad John Galvin in memory of her mum and wife to John of 48 years, dear Patricia Margaret Galvin. 

Jess Bronstein laid a wreath in memory of her dear nan, Joyce. 

Wendy Slack laid a wreath for dear Colin Law who died aged just 33. 

Adam Harwood laid a wreath on behalf of Molnlycke Healthcare and was in attendance with Simon Price. 

Julie Bailey and families from Cure the NHS after they had laid their tributes to their loved ones.

Our thanks to the Dean and Canon who made us welcome. The service was a moving experience and one that we will remember, albeit with great sadness. Following the service members and guests went to the Westminster Archive Centre for a Reception where Derek Butler gave an overview of events and achievements since last year's memorial service.

Reception, Westminster Archive Centre

Derek Butler gave a presentation on what had been achieved by the charity this year, and also presented some of the key messages from the Francis Inquiry. The presentation was shocking, but not unfamiliar to many of us, as we had all had similar experiences to some of the things that had happened to those families. The Francis Inquiry has cost £13m, likely to rise to £40m..... But many paid the ultimate price.

The event to remember those lost to healthcare associated infections has been held at Westminster Abbey for eight years now, and was the catalyst for the formation of the national charity MRSA Action UK. In 2005 we were in a position where if you went into hospital it was considered almost inevitable that you would contract an infection as a result of any surgical procedure.

For us who lost people dear to us this was not acceptable and we knew from the standards of care received that more could be done to prevent infections. An over reliance on antibiotics to treat infections had become the norm and standards of aseptic practice, hand hygiene and hospital cleanliness seemed to be no longer a priority in many of our healthcare facilities.

Much hue and cry from relatives and infection prevention specialists was heard and finally John Reid set a target to half the numbers of people affected by MRSA bloodstream infections. Many in the healthcare profession believed this to be unattainable, we did not.

A culture change has taken place in many organisations with regard to preventing infection, partly as a consequence of John Reid's target and the Code of Practice for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections, we are now at the point where the phrase zero tolerance to avoidable infections is the mantra of the NHS organisations who, in 2005, regarded infection as inevitable.

Eight years is a long time, but John Reid's catalyst for change needs to be repeated, not in eight years time but now. The Francis Inquiry over the loss of life and patient harm at Mid Staffs needs to be recognised as a catalyst for change now. We could not hold a Memorial Event this year without recognising that and bringing it to the attention of all those who can make a difference.

The recommendations must be implemented, nothing less is acceptable. Staff need the time to care and be compassionate, the Francis Inquiry showed they could not, there were admissions from the staff themselves that they were not equipped with the time to care and show compassion, no-one listened when issues were raised, and even regulators failed to recognise the appalling failures. Relatives were left in despair as they were helpless to save their loved ones.

We prayed at Westminster Abbey to give strength and courage to all those who are in healthcare to continue to campaign and never forget those who were lost to the failings of the very organisation that is there to protect us when we are at our most vulnerable.

It is only right that this year Julie Bailey from Cure the NHS laid the charity's main wreath with Professor Hugh Pennington, our President.

Julie's organisation is run by 15 people, but hundreds of people were victims of what happened at Mid Staffs. Her colleagues joined us at the service and then on to parliament to continue their campaign to achieve accountability for the many deaths that occurred at Mid Staffs.

We will never forget.

A copy of Derek's presentation is available here.

Our President Professor Hugh Pennington gave an address

Hugh said he was proud to be involved with MRSA Action UK, and the pressure that had been brought to bear and resulting changes were having an impact, the figures are proof of that, of course these were just the MRSA bloodstream infections. The average patient having a hip replacement may be affected by MSSA or MRSA.

In 1946 Alexander Fleming said that doctors should resist the pressure to give out antibiotics for minor ailments, but they were still used too much.

Dame Sally Davies made antibiotic resistance a feature in here annual report, and claimed that 50% of patients undergoing surgery may die in the near future, pressuring members of parliament to keep overuse and the need for antibiotic discovery high on the agenda.

Hugh said that we need permanent political attention, and without our pressure it's just the experts saying we need to keep preventing infections as a priority. "There are liars, damned liars and expert witnesses" patients and those affected carry an enormous amount of weight.

Hugh spoke of the £2.5 million spent on the E.coli Inquiry, and he said we are still grinding through what needs to be implemented.

Culture is the most important thing, Stafford paying attention to the patients. It's difficult and never ending; if you relax people go back to how they were. That's why I'm proud to be a part of this, keep going, we must continue.

It was a privilege to meet members, friends and colleagues from across healthcare. Our special tribute and record of the service can be viewed here.

If you or someone you care about has been affected by a healthcare associated infection and you wish to discuss this with us, please contact us at

The information on this website is for general purposes only and is not a substitute for qualified medical care, if you are unwell please seek medical advice.

(c) MRSA Action UK 2013