Patients at two Sussex hospitals get sick from 'infected chicken sandwiches'

Patients at two Sussex hospitals have been affected by a nationwide bacteria outbreak thought to be caused by pre-packed chicken sandwiches.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that one patient each in Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester were diagnosed with listeria infections, with the second case being identified by Public Health England on Friday.

Worthing Hospital was one of two hospitals in Sussex affected by the outbreak

Worthing Hospital was one of two hospitals in Sussex affected by the outbreak

The trust was one of 43 hospital trusts across England supplied with pre-packed sandwiches and salads by the Good Food Chain, which PHE believed was responsible for the nationwide outbreak.

It confirmed that nine people had been made ill due to this, and that two of these patients died.

Western Sussex said that both of the patients infected locally 'displayed only mild symptoms of the infection and have been treated appropriately'.

Chief nurse gives advice to the public

Listeria is a type of bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. Symptoms include a high temperature of 38C or above, aches and pains, chills, feeling sick or vomiting and diarrhoea.

Western Sussex Hospitals’ Chief Nurse and Director for Infection Prevention and Control, Dr Maggie Davies, said: “Listeriosis – which is the infection caused by Listeria bacteria – is rare and for most healthy people it goes unnoticed or there are mild symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea that usually last a short time without the need for treatment.

“Pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions can be susceptible to more serious complications, but Public Health England advises that the risk to the public is low and that people should only seek medical attention if they develop symptoms.”

What happened?

The Good Food Chain alerted the trust to concerns relating to its chicken sandwiches on May 25, according to a statement.

Western Sussex said it immediately withdrew all Good Food Chain products containing chicken from its patient catering service and the League of Friends shop at Worthing Hospital.

The next day, staff removed all the company’s products after PHE confirmed that the concern related to Listeria.

No other food outlets, shops or restaurants in any of our hospitals stocked products from this supplier, the trust said.

To date, no cases of Listeria linked to the outbreak have been confirmed outside of hospitals.