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More must be done across Europe to tackle carbon monoxide poisoning

2 min read

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has organised conference in Parliament today with Thomas Cook, to mark Carbon Monoxide Awareness week, noting 40 holiday makers have been killed in the last nine years.

Christi and Bobby Shepherd were just seven and six years old when they died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty boiler in a Corfu hotel, on a Thomas Cook holiday, nine years ago.

Sadly, their story is not unique. Research carried out by my office revealed that at least 40 holiday-makers have died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the last nine years.

Today I am hosting a conference in Parliament to mark Carbon Monoxide Awareness week. The holiday industry, gas safety experts, doctors and charities will all attend to see how we can prevent other tragedies.

Sharon Wood, the mother of Christi and Bobby, will be speaking at the conference alongside Thomas Cook’s CEO Peter Fankhauser. Thomas Cook promised the children's parents they would lead the call from the travel industry to improve holiday safety. The conference will be an important milestone for Thomas Cook and the holiday industry as a whole.

The conference is an opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made in the years since Christi and Bobby's tragic deaths. But it is also a chance to focus on the challenges ahead.

Wakefield coroner David Hinchliff was clear that new laws are needed at UK and EU level to protect families on holiday. David Cameron should be leading the way in Europe to protect British holidaymakers.

The Coroner also argued that the medical profession needs to be more systematic in recognising carbon monoxide poisoning. There is still no official Europe-wide statistical database on serious incidents and deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.

This means that the extent of the problem is unknown. Each individual case is presented as a tragic occurrence rather than as a systematic failure.

Nothing will bring back Christi and Bobby, but their parents’ dearest wish is to spare other families the heartbreak they have suffered. We owe it to them to act.

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