Another child dies from infection at crisis hospital
Call for urgent statement as pressure mounts on minister
ANOTHER vulnerable child died of an infection at a crisis-hit superhospital last week, it emerged yesterday.
The news comes as a group of parents said they had ‘no confidence’ in the health board at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH).
They have demanded to be ‘told the truth’ about water contamination and infections at the hospital campus.
The young patient contracted a hospitalacquired infection and passed away while being treated last Monday.
It is understood three more hospitalacquired bug incidents from the adjacent Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) have been reported to Health Protection Scotland in the past three weeks.
The news heaps fresh pressure on Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, who has faced calls to quit because of the scandal over water contamination in child cancer wards. Since opening in 2015, the QEUH and RHC, which share a campus, have faced a series of scandals including the death of a ten-year-old boy after he contracted a fungal infection linked to pigeon droppings in the hospital.
Milly Main, also ten, died after contracting an infection at the hospital in August 2017. Weeks later a three-year-old, Mason Djemat, also died.
Health Protection Scotland refused to confirm the severity of the three most recent outbreaks or how many patients had been affected. It is believed the child who died had been moved between various wards at the facility before passing away last Monday night.
On Wednesday, infection control experts gathered at the £842million facility, run by Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board (NHSGGC), to discuss the case and attempt to determine the source of infection, according to the Herald on Sunday. That probe is still ongoing.
The tragedy has heightened concerns about the safety of child cancer patients being treated in ward 6A after it reopened last week. The ward was closed down in August after three young people were struck down by infections in a two-week period.
They had been transferred from ward 2A in the RHC, which was also closed after dozens of patients contracted infections. Politicians have now called on Miss Freeman to make an urgent statement to the Scottish parliament tomorrow amid rising anger that patients and their parents were being badly let down.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs offered his condolences to the child’s family, and added: ‘Families need to be told the truth. It is clear that an urgent investigation must now proceed to establish the true facts and whether the infection developed in the hospital.
‘Scottish Conservatives are demanding Jeane Freeman comes to Holyrood on Tuesday to make an urgent statement.’ Scottish
Labour health spokesman Monica Lennon said the child’s family would ‘need answers’ and should be kept fully informed as the investigation progresses.
She added: ‘It must be established if the infection was linked to the water supply.’
Last week, the Scottish Daily Mail reported that health chiefs were warned by independent investigators about infection risk in the campus’s water supply when it opened four years ago.
Leaked reports from NHS Estates reveal that despite the initial warning, ‘no significant’ action was taken to deal with the threat of infection or minimise risk for more than two years.
Fifteen parents with children receiving treatment at the campus said yesterday they had ‘no confidence’ in the health board.
Anas Sarwar, Labour MSP for Glasgow, said NHSGGC chief executive Jane Grant needed to step down. He added ‘The chief executive is ultimately responsible for the rotten culture of fear and intimidation at this hospital.
‘It should never have taken brave whistleblowers to come forward for this scandal to emerge.’
The health board said it was limited in what it could say about the child’s death.
An NHSGGC spokesman said: ‘We need to take care when discussing individual cases as we are bound by strict rules of patient confidentiality.’
Miss Grant said yesterday: ‘I am absolutely committed to ensuring families are provided with the information they need and deserve.
‘Families should be reassured that infection rates at present are within expected levels and the hospital is safe.’
She said ‘there was no attempt to ignore’ technical reports on the water supply quality ‘once they were brought to my attention’.
Miss Grant added: ‘I ensured that immediate steps and necessary action was taken to provide assurance about the safety of the water supply.’