Infection control at flagship Scottish hospital ‘generally good’, inspectors say

Unannounced inspections of Glasgow’s flagship hospital found “generally good” approaches to infection control, a watchdog has said.

However, Healthcare Improvement Scotland said the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) was under “significant” staffing pressure, with dozens of wards carrying a risk rating of red. The inspectors visited the hospital in March and June.

A separate public inquiry is investigating its infection prevention measures after it emerged that patients have died after contracting infections at the hospital complex.

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Ten-year-old Milly Main died in 2017 after contracting an infection at the QEUH’s Royal Hospital for Children’s cancer ward, and senior Scottish Government official Andrew Slorance died in 2020 with an infection caused by a fungus called aspergillus.

Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

The Healthcare Improvement Scotland inspection was said to be “wide ranging” and examined the prevention of aspergillus.

Its report noted: “On the first day of our inspection, senior managers told us that 27 wards across the hospital campus scored a risk rating of red at the start of the day. This can result from staff numbers or the staff skill mix not being optimal.”

The report said patients were happy with the cleanliness of the hospital and staff were adhering to infection control measures.

Donna Maclean, head of service at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “At the time of our inspection visits, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus was experiencing a significant range of pressures, including increased hospital admissions, increased waiting times in emergency departments and reduced staff availability.

“These pressures are not isolated to this hospital, with similar pressures being experienced across NHS Scotland.

“Despite the significant staff shortages across the campus, staff within the clinical areas told us they felt supported by senior leadership, and we observed clear communication throughout the inspection.

“We observed that most infection prevention and control practices carried out by staff working across all roles to support care delivery was generally good, and in line with infection control guidance and standards.”

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Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Patient safety is paramount and the report highlights good infection prevention and control leadership at QEUH, a vigilant approach towards aspergillus infections, and strong communication across the multidisciplinary and infection prevention and control team.”

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