A HOSPITAL has come under fire for its handling of a tuberculosis case which some feel has endangered public health.

Some Royal Sussex County Hospital staff were informed in a recent round of letters that they needed a screening more than 18 months after initial exposure to a TB patient

One pharmacist who received the letter from the Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, who asked not to be named, said he has since worked in other medical facilities, was concerned by the length of time elapsed.

He said: “I have since been in contact with thousands of people, patients in hospital, my family, members of the public.

“What I am worried about is the amount of time that has passed. Why weren’t we told sooner?

“This needs to be dealt with straight away. How many people could have been infected if in fact I am a carrier of the disease?”

He also said he had struggled to get a screening since the letter.

“I went to my GP and I had to really push for the screening, because they told me that the hospital should have carried it out themself.

“A nurse there also told me that her husband had worked on the same wards as me during the infected patient’s stay, and he has yet to receive the screening letter.

“I am worried that this has been badly mishandled.”

Hollingdean & Stanmer councillor Michael Inkpin-Leissner, who the pharmacist contacted with his concerns, said: “public health in our city was and still could be in danger thanks to the irresponsible action of the hospital administration.

“There must be a serious investigation and consequences.”

However, Dr George Findlay, chief medical officer for the trust, said: “TB is generally difficult to transmit and can lie dormant in a patient’s system for many years before becoming active.

“Therefore it is not unusual to have a substantial gap between initial exposure, subsequent detection of TB in the patient and then the contact tracing work evidenced by this letter.

“As soon as the patient’s diagnosis was confirmed, all of the necessary measures were put in place.”

“If any colleagues have any concerns, I would urge them to speak to their manager who will facilitate the best support.”