The first victim of the outbreak of listeria at British hospitals has been named as 52-year-old company director Ian Hitchcock.
According to The Times newspaper, the haulage firm boss from Matlock, Derbyshire, had been admitted to the Royal Hospital Derby five weeks ago for what his family thought would be treatment for cancer.
During his time in the hospital he ate a chicken sandwich made by The Good Food Chain which contained meat provided by North Country Cooked Meats. Hitchcock soon became ill and died on June 8 in a Nottingham hospital that he was transferred to.
Hitchcock’s brother Alan, 54, said that the family - wife Miranda, and twin son Andrew and John - was devastated by the death.
“Miranda is distraught,” he told The Times. “They have been married for 20 years and were devoted to each other.
“Ian was a hard-working man and did not like to take a day off sick. We have been in business together for 30 years.
“When he went into hospital, I thought he would soon be back at work. I didn’t think he would die because of the food.”
Hitchcock’s sister-in-law Valerie also told the newspaper that the family were shocked as to how he had been infected while in hospital.
“We just don’t understand how sandwiches being supplied to hospitals could contain something deadly like listeria.”
Five people are believed to died so far from eating sandwiches and salads provided by the same supplier, The Good Food Chain.
Deaths have also been recorded at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
The Good Food Chain supplies more than 40 NHS trusts across the UK and has now voluntarily ceased production. Public Health England has launched an investigation into the outbreak.
The health secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons last week that there would be “severe consequences” if there is evidence of “wrongdoing” over the listeria outbreak.
An inquest will open into Hitchcock’s death at noon on Friday at Derby coroner’s court.