Doctors’ leader brands Glasgow hospital report ‘unacceptable in a modern NHS’

The head of the BMA in Scotland has warned a damning healthcare report into a scandal-hit hospital “cannot be acceptable in a modern NHS”.

Dr Lewis Morrison said the Healthcare Improvement Scotland report following an unannounced inspection visit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), which wsa ordered by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman was “a major cause of concern”.

The so-called ‘super hospital’ has been at the centre of controversy after a 10-year-old boy being treated for cancer died following an infection linked to pigeon droppings, Cryptococcus, in December last year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A 73-year-old woman being treated at the QEUH also contracted the infection and died in January.

Queen Eliizabeth University Hospital, is one of the NHSs largest centres.
Queen Eliizabeth University Hospital, is one of the NHSs largest centres.

Inspectors found three key areas where NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde must do better.

This includes developing a strategy that provides assurance the cleaning of high activity areas, including the emergency department is carried out to an appropriate standard.

The governance around estates and facilities issues with regards to cleaning, environmental damage and water management - must be improved and the management around the prevention of infection and control must be strengthened.

Dr Morrison, Chair of BMA Scotland said: “Such a stark report about Scotland’s largest hospital is without doubt a major cause of concern. There isn’t any hiding place from some of issues raised, and it is vital the board addresses them urgently.

“But it is hard to escape the conclusion that there aren’t also systematic and wider issues impacting on the problems Healthcare Improvement Scotland have highlighted.

“A shortage of staff – including infection control doctors – is a theme running through the report and reflects our long held concerns about staffing levels across the NHS.

“There are also apparent and long standing issues with maintenance of the estate. The report finds the fabric of the building is in a very poor state of repair and therefore cannot be effectively cleaned. This cannot be acceptable in a modern NHS.”

Jeane Freeman said that hard-working frontline NHS staff had been “let down” and their concerns had not been listened to.

She added: “I’m grateful to Healthcare Environment Inspectorate for their thorough inspection and report.

“What is clear from their work is that our frontline NHS staff at QEUH are working hard every day to maintain hygiene, prevent infections and deliver the safe patient care that is essential. But they have been let down by a failure to hear their concerns, to act on them and to maintain the necessary improvements HEI have highlighted before.

“I have spoken to the Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and I am pleased to hear they have submitted an action plan which has published alongside the HIS report.”

It also reently emerged that between January and September last year, 21 children being treated in the Schiehallion cancer unit at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children which is part of the QEUH, developed a range of blood infections caused by 12 separate types of bacteria and fungi.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon MSP said: “This is a damning report which raises serious concerns about trasparency, governance and the effectiveness of ongoing maintenance and infection control at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

“Jeane Freeman must take urgent action, and should report to Parliament as soon as possible to outline what the wider implications are for health boards and hospitals across Scotland, as well as what steps she will be taking to ensure the report’s requirements are implemented in full.”

The inspection team visited 27 wards throughout the main QEUH building, the Royal Hospital for Children and the Institute of Neurological Science.

Alastair Delaney, Director of Quality Assurance, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “Following our inspection NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have developed an action plan and must address the areas which require improvement as a matter of priority.”

Jane Grant, Chief Executive, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “The report contains a number of positive findings, including good staff awareness of infection control and high levels of hand hygiene compliance.

“The inspectors have also confirmed that infection rates are within acceptable levels.

“The report has, however, highlighted a number of areas that we need to address.

“Work is already underway to action the requirements and recommendation that Healthcare Improvement Scotland have identified.”