Patient safety

11.03.19

Concerns raised over hospital bosses and cleanliness in damning report on Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

Bosses at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) failed to act on staff’s fears over dirty vents and some parts of the hospital cannot be cleaned due to pending repair work, the health secretary’s report into the scandal-hit hospital has revealed.

The Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman ordered the investigation into the safety, cleanliness and design of the £842m super-hospital following the death of two patients caused by an infection linked to pigeon droppings.

The report found a number of concerns, criticising management for not listening to concerns raised by senior charge nurses about the cleanliness of the ventilation system – which has been identified as the most likely source of the fatal infection.

Inspectors from Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) found 300 repair jobs were waiting to be done with no evidence of a plan to complete them, and the emergency department was found to have been not been properly cleaned.

They also discovered a number of areas of the hospital which were “in a poor state of repair” and found evidence of non-compliance with standard infection control precautions.

The inspectors noted dirty ventilation panels with a “significant amount of dust” as well as leaky showers, non-functional baths and grimy toilets, and damage was noted to flooring, walls and skirting boards.

Jeane Freeman ordered the review after meeting with officials at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) following the deaths of a 10-year-old boy and 73-year-old woman who had contracted cryptococcus.

The health secretary said it was clear from the report that NHS staff were being “let down by managers who are not acting on the issues that frontline staff are pointing out need to be addressed.”

The cryptococcus was believed to be from pigeon droppings located in a plant room on the hospital’s roof, adding to a number of problems which have hit the QEUH since it opened four years ago.

The Glasgow trust was hit with three infection-control controversies in two weeks, with two premature babies dying after contracting a blood stream infection, and 23 children contracted bloodstream infections linked to the water supply in cancer wards last year.

The trust’s chief executive, Jane Grant, said she welcomed the report, which highlighted a number of areas which need to be addressed.

She said an action plan had been developed since the inspection and work is underway “as a priority” to action the requirements and recommendations identified by HIS.

Shadow health secretary Mike Briggs said: “This report makes for grim reading with findings of blood on patient trolleys, a cleaner shortage, and more than 300 outstanding repairs.

“SNP ministers must now ensure that all these issues are addressed and we see an action plan to address these concerning issues and strengthen the governance around infection prevention and control, which has been outlined in the report.”

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