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20.03.19

Inquiry hears of ‘systemic problems’ with communications at scandal-hit Glasgow Hospital

There are ‘systemic problems’ in communications between infection control nurses and other staff, MSPs have heard in an inquiry into Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), where several patients died after infection outbreaks.

Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee launched an inquiry into the Glasgow hospital in the wake of two patients who died after contracting an infection linked to pigeon droppings.

MSPs were told that a “backlog” of repairs had built up and that communication “was not great” about how the repairs were being managed at the £842m super-hospital which only opened four years ago.

Committee convener Scottish Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald referred to comments made by the director of quality assurance at Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), Alastair Delaney.

He said that having heard from witnesses, it was suggested that infection control doctors and nurses did not have close working relationships with those managing the services.

Delaney said that these relationships were “absolutely essential” for hospitals and in particular infection control, and something he would be concerned about across the country.

He commented: “Obviously in that particular circumstance, we had quite a large backlog of repairs to be done and the communication was not particularly great about how those were being managed.

“Some of the problems were more systemic - about governance and relationships.”

Macdonald said that evidence submitted indicated that the undertaking of certain routine maintenance and repairs were often carried out without consulting with infection control professionals.

The MSPs did hear that Scotland’s overall performance in regards to infection control was “right up there with the very best” and that Glasgow’s health board was “actually doing better than the Scottish average.”

The Holyrood inquiry is looking into infection control across NHS Scotland, with a separate investigation into QEUH being carried out under the instruction of the health secretary Jeane Freeman which recently raised concerns about the leadership and cleanliness at QEUH.

Phillip Couser, an official with NHS National Services Scotland and Health Protection Scotland, told the MSPs that there was no evidence of an increase in deaths due to the infection.

The controversy surfaced in December when a 10-year-old boy and a 73-year-old woman died at QEUH after contracting a fungal infection linked to bird droppings.

Last week, the Crown Office said they would also be investigating a third death at the hospital after 63-year-old Mito Kaur died after contracting a different infection.

A statement from her solicitor Aamer Anwar said that “many questions remain unanswered” and last month Freeman admitted that public confidence in the NHS had been “shaken” by the outbreaks.

Image credit - Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

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