Health Secretary Alex Neil in hospital bed blunder

The Health Secretary has been publicly rebuked for sitting on a patient’s bed during a visit to the Royal Victoria hospital building – which has been specifically designed to minimise superbugs.

Alex Neil officially opened the building at the Western General on Tuesday – and breached NHS guidelines by sitting on a patient’s bed.

The new building was designed with single rooms throughout, rather than shared wards, to reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections (HAIs).

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said Mr Neil spotted his error immediately, and the sheets were quickly changed.

The incident was exposed at First Minister’s Questions today during an exchange about Scotland’s battle against HAIs.

Cases of deadly superbug MRSA have reduced by 81.5 per cent in the last seven years, from 1002 cases in 2005 to 185 last year, but Alex Salmond said more can still be done.

Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw, the party’s health spokesman, said: “Can I wholeheartedly applaud the success of the government and the focus it has brought to this issue, both the current Cabinet Secretary and his predecessor and congratulate all of those in the NHS who have made the progress they have.

“The First Minister, I wonder, would he respond to the following that I received this morning: ‘As a nurse, I was rather disgusted to see the Scottish health minister park his backside on a patient’s bed while opening a new hospital and wittering on about infection control.’

“Can I implore the First Minister to implore his colleagues to desist?”

Mr Salmond said: “It’s absolutely true that one of the successes has been to instil changed behaviour on the part of patients, visitors, and staff through the NHS, and that includes government ministers.

“In future, every single one of us should aspire to the high standards of Jackson Carlaw.”

The NHS offers guidance to people visiting someone in hospital.

Under the heading “What not to do when visiting someone in hospital”, the first piece of guidance states: “It’s best not to sit on the patient’s bed as this can spread germs. Use the chairs provided.”