NHS cri­sis: SNP to run all hospi­tal build­ing projects

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Kate Fos­ter Scot­tish Health Edi­tor

THE Scot­tish Govern­ment will take over from health boards in man­ag­ing new-build hospi­tal projects, the Health Sec­re­tary said yes­ter­day.

Jeane Free­man said the cur­rent re­spon­si­bil­ity for health ser­vice man­agers to over­see con­struc­tions will be ‘shifted’ to govern­ment of­fi­cials.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore MSPs, she said health boards of­ten lack the ‘ex­per­tise’ to over­see ma­jor build­ing projects.

The Queen El­iz­a­beth Univer­sity Hospi­tal cam­pus in Glas­gow is at the cen­tre of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter the deaths of four pa­tients were linked to in­fec­tions caught at the site.

Two died af­ter be­ing in­fected with a bug linked to pi­geon drop­pings. One died from an­other in­fec­tion and the death of a ten-year-old girl, Milly Main, has been linked to con­tam­i­nated water.

The open­ing of the Royal Hospi­tal for Chil­dren in Ed­in­burgh has been de­layed un­til next au­tumn be­cause its ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem did not meet stan­dards.

Probes are un­der way into the deaths – an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the QEUH and a public in­quiry into both hos­pi­tals that could re­sult in crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings or a fa­tal ac­ci­dent in­quiry.

Water con­tam­i­na­tion is one of the is­sues be­ing ex­am­ined. Tests in 2018 showed widespread bac­te­rial con­tam­i­na­tion of the water sup­ply at the QEUH cam­pus although the health board in­sists the water is safe.

Bac­te­ria in the gen­eral en­vi­ron­ment do not cause a threat to healthy peo­ple but

‘I im­plore you to take con­trol’

can cause prob­lems in those with a poor im­mune sys­tem, such as can­cer pa­tients un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore MSPs on Holy­rood’s health com­mit­tee yes­ter­day, Miss Free­man said a na­tional cen­tre of ex­per­tise will over­see fu­ture hospi­tal builds.

She added: ‘The way in which ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture builds are con­ducted is that boards have a sig­nif­i­cant re­spon­si­bil­ity in that area and they bring in ad­di­tional ex­per­tise.

‘For any board, that will be a once-in-a-life­time ex­er­cise, so there isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the ex­per­tise in­side the board.

‘We will re­move that re­spon­si­bil­ity from boards. They will still have a sig­nif­i­cant re­spon­si­bil­ity in iden­ti­fy­ing lo­cal need and de­sign, but we need to have the ex­per­tise in a cen­tral place across con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion, de­sign, com­pli­ance, build, main­te­nance and other ar­eas.’

She said a public in­quiry into the two hos­pi­tals will ap­point its head by Christ­mas.

Con­cerns over con­tam­i­nated water at the QEUH cam­pus forced the clo­sure of two wards at the chil­dren’s hospi­tal in Septem­ber last year.

Milly’s mother, Kim­berly Dar­roch, has said she was not told the rea­son for her daugh­ter’s death at the hospi­tal in 2017 but is ‘100 per cent’ cer­tain it was due to con­tam­i­nated water.

Asked about the is­sue of water con­tam­i­na­tion at the QEUH cam­pus, Miss Free­man said: ‘It is my un­der­stand­ing that the cur­rent in­de­pen­dent re­view has taken ev­i­dence on that, and that is part of what they are con­sid­er­ing.’

The death of a three-year-old boy in the same month as Milly is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Crown Of­fice.

The Health Sec­re­tary said on Mon­day she was open to Govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion in NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

Miss Free­man is due to make a min­is­te­rial state­ment on the

QEUH to­day fol­low­ing dis­clo­sures about Milly’s death. Last night, Labour MSP Anas Sar­war wrote to Miss Free­man urg­ing her to take charge of NHSGGC. He said: ‘They can­not be left to in­ves­ti­gate them­selves. I im­plore you to please take con­trol of this sit­u­a­tion and put them into spe­cial mea­sures.’

Fresh trou­bles have emerged at the QEUH. Its heat­ing broke down on Satur­day and pa­tients were given ex­tra blankets and mo­bile heaters while en­gi­neers worked.

QEUH bosses are in­stalling a tem­po­rary mi­nor in­juries unit to take pres­sure off its A&E depart­ment this win­ter. The ‘mod­u­lar build­ing’ is ex­pected to be in place be­fore Christ­mas.

Gra­ham Grant – Page 18

Un­der pres­sure: Health Sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man ap­pear­ing be­fore the health com­mit­tee at Holy­rood yes­ter­day

In­fec­tion: Milly and mum Kim­berly

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