Tories make fresh demand for health secretary Jeanne Freeman to resign

The Scottish Conservatives have renewed their call for Jeanne Freeman to resign after the escalation of the entirety of Scotland's largest health board to the highest level of special measures.

Ms Freeman said the changes would help "enhance leadership capacity". Picture: Michael Gillen

The health secretary informed MSPs today that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde would be escalated as a whole to Stage 4 of the NHS Board Performance Escalation Framework.

In November, the board was placed at stage four over ongoing issues relating to infection prevention, management and control at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) and the Royal Hospital for Children. But a decision has now been taken to place the full board at that stage.

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Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said the Scottish Government was trying "to reshuffle its way out of a crisis".

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Freeman must "resign or be sacked"

The health board have been dealing with a number of scandals around the QEUH after a series of infections and death of patients.

Concerns about the water supply on the campus were raised after it emerged 10-year-old cancer patient Milly Main died at the children's hospital on the site after contracting an infection in August 2017. Her parents have called for a fatal accident inquiry into her death.

A five-stage scale is used in Scotland to show the level of oversight for stricken health boards.

A stage four ranking is given to a board where there are "significant risks to delivery, quality, financial performance or safety" with "senior level external support required".

Principal areas of support concentrating on scheduled care, unscheduled care, primary care out of hours, finance and culture and leadership, will all be assessed as part of the latest escalation.

To facilitate support for the board, NHS Lanarkshire chief executive Calum Campbell has been appointed as a turnaround director.Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the move would provide an increased level of scrutiny and intervention at the board.

"All of us, rightly, have high expectations of our NHS and I'm focused on improving performance and delivery across the system in order to provide the best care possible for the people of Scotland," she said.

"In order to provide additional direction and support to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde I have taken the decision to escalate the board as a whole to stage four of the Performance Escalation Framework.

"Calum Campbell as turnaround director will provide an increased level of scrutiny and intervention."

As well as the action taken for the board in Glasgow, a number of senior management changes were also made at NHS Highland and NHS Orkney to increase capacity.

Iain Stewart, chief executive of NHS Highland, will take up an executive role within NHS Orkney ahead of taking on the role of chief executive after the phased retirement of current chief executive Gerry O'Brien.

Paul Hawkins, chief executive of NHS Fife, will be seconded to NHS Highland as interim chief executive.

Ms Freeman said the changes would help "enhance leadership capacity" and better align skills and experience across NHS Scotland.

"In his role as Chief Executive of NHS Highland Iain Stewart has established a culture programme for NHS Highland and worked to bring significant stability to the health board," she said.

Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “Ms Freeman’s desperate attempt to reshuffle her way out of an NHS crisis shows just how out of ideas she is.

“Half of our health boards are now in special measures and shifting personnel around will not address the widespread and systemic issues that health boards have long been dealing with.

“The Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh still hasn’t opened, and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital continues to deal with the repercussions of the recent scandals involving infections and contamination.

“The SNP’s catastrophic mismanagement of these projects and the wider health service are all on display.

“Ms Freeman demonstrated a profound lack of judgement when she kept details of a deceased child secret, she continues to demonstrate that same lack of judgement if this is the best she can do.

“She should now resign and let someone else try to improve our NHS for the benefit of patients and the extremely hardworking NHS staff doing their best in this broken system.”