Glasgow hospital design to be reviewed after post-mortem links child’s death to pigeon infection

The Scottish health minister has ordered a review of the design of Glasgow’s flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) after an infection linked to pigeon droppings was found to be a “contributing factor” in the death of a child.

Jeane Freeman made the announcement after she met with the hospital’s top officials and clinical staff yesterday following the death of two patients who contracted a fungal infection after inhaling cryptococcus, typically found in pigeon faeces.

Freeman told MSPs a review would be carried out into the design, build, handover, and maintenance of the flagship hospital after traces of pigeon excrement had been found in a top floor room where there was a small crack in the wall invisible to the naked eye.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), which runs the hospital, said that one of the patients was elderly and had died due to an unrelated cause – but a post-mortem has revealed that the second patient’s death was directly linked to the fungal infection.

Following the discovery of the infection in December, NHSGGC confirmed a small number of children and adult patients had been treated for the infection with portable air filter units installed as a safety precaution.

The Scottish health secretary commended the health board for dealing with the infection “thoroughly,” but said the inquiry was needed as there had been a number of instances where the fabric of the building was “less than satisfactory.”

“We need to be absolutely sure about the current state of the infrastructure – what do we need to fix, how has that arisen and what are the lessons for our buildings elsewhere in the health service.”

After visiting QEUH, Freeman said she had agreed a review with external expert advice after revealing that “the post-mortem of a child who has passed away confirmed that cryptococcus was both present and a contributory factor in their death.”

The Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Monica Lennon said an inquiry was long overdue following a “laundry list of problems” at the hospital since it opened, and pointed out that problems were reported back as far as February 2016.

“I think the people of Scotland will feel it is absolutely extraordinary that in a modern hospital, Scotland's flagship and apparently super hospital no less, we have a situation where pigeons and infections can kill patients.”


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