PUBLIC Health England has come under fire from a health watchdog and a Dorset MP who have demanded lessons are learned from the E.coli outbreak.

They say families feel that Public Health England bosses "did not take them seriously enough in the beginning, delayed giving out public information and failed to update them on the investigation".

Now Healthwatch Dorset has accused Public Health England of forcing families "to jump through hoops" to get information as MP Chris Chope plans to take the issue to parliament to ensure the transparency of the agency and safety of constituents.

Martyn Webster, manager of Healthwatch Dorset, said: “Local people are still living with the terrible consequences (both physical and emotional) of this outbreak. They have a right to expect a full explanation as to how it came to happen, and what has been done to make sure other families don’t have to go through what they’ve been through.

“And that explanation should be given to them openly, rather than them being made to jump through hoops to get it. Instead, they’re left feeling that Public Health England (PHE) didn’t take this seriously enough from the beginning, delayed giving out public information and weren’t active in keeping them up to date with the progress of their investigation.

“If these families are ever to have any sort of ‘closure’ at all, the very least they need is to know that lessons have been learned and everything is being done to prevent another such outbreak.”

Mr Chope said: “When has there ever been a problem as a result of the public knowing about it? It means the public may be more careful about washing their hands, for example, and that’s not going to do anyone any harm.

“I can’t understand why we’d want to cover up something like that and can’t think of a justification for an outbreak of that kind to not be made public.

"Why not just be open about it and people will understand? If we don’t know where it came from and we don’t know what we can do about it, people will understand, but for the public to be kept in the dark and for information to have to be dragged out through FOI seems to be rather odd.”