Scheme to improve Scottish healthcare building projects branded 'a PR exercise'

Scottish Labour have branded the government’s new scheme to improve the quality of healthcare buildings projects as little more “than a PR exercise”.

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie’s comments come after the Scottish Government unveiled its NHS Assure scheme – a national service aimed at improving the quality and management of healthcare construction and refurbishment projects across NHS Scotland.

The initiative brings together experts to improve quality and support the design, construction and maintenance of major healthcare developments – including microbiologists, infection prevention and control nurses, architects, planners and engineers.

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The Scottish Government has said the scheme will make sure newly built or refurbished buildings are designed with infection control standards in mind.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow has been blighted by problems.

It comes amid ongoing questions over water contamination at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, where ten-year-old Milly Main died while in emission from leukaemia after acquiring an infection.

Last week, it emerged that a second child had died as the result of a water-borne infection at the hospital.

Meanwhile, the flagship Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh was beleaguered by delays and spiralling costs, finally opening its doors earlier this year, two years after inspections had found safety concerns over the hospital's ventilation systems.

An NHS Lothian-commissioned review found a "human error" in a spreadsheet with the specifications for air flow in critical care rooms.

Ms Baillie said: "Any effort to improve the construction of hospitals and patient safety is to be welcomed, but it is extraordinary that it took scandals at two crucial hospitals for it to be considered.

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"As the tragic cases at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital demonstrate, any commitment to patient safety by professionals can be undermined by politicians more interested in delivering headlines than high quality healthcare.

"So, the Scottish Government must urgently confirm what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that safety concerns can't be hidden from the public eye by scrutiny averse NHS bureaucrats or self-interested politicians. Without those reassurances it is hard to see this as much more than a PR exercise."

Commissioned by the Scottish Government and established by NHS National Services Scotland, the service will work with health boards to ensure healthcare buildings are designed with infection prevention and control practice in mind, protecting patients and improving safety.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf, said: “NHS Scotland Assure will support a culture of collaboration and transparency to provide the reassurance patients and their families deserve to feel safe in our hospitals. This service is unique to Scotland and is leading the way in risk and quality management across healthcare facilities.”

He added: “With services designed with patients in mind, we can make a real, positive difference to people’s lives.”

Gordon James, director of procurement, commissioning and facilities for National Services Scotland, said: “We co-designed NHS Scotland Assure with colleagues to improve quality and reduce risk in our healthcare buildings and facilities across Scotland.

“NHS Scotland Assure will work collaboratively with Health Boards to make sure our buildings are compliant with the best available guidance and evidence.”

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