Child’s hospital death ‘linked to contaminated water’Rita Dune
Child’s hospital death ‘linked to contaminated water’.
The death of a child cancer patient has been linked to a contaminated water supply at Scotland’s largest hospital, a whistleblower has claimed.
Labour MSP Anas Sarwar described the allegations, which relate to a case from 2017, as a “scandal”.
The Daily Record reports a probe uncovered the infection link but the child’s parents were not told about it.
The health board also said its “overriding priority” is the safety of its patients.
Mr Sarwar raised the matter during First Minister’s Questions.
He told MSPs: “This isn’t just a scandal, it’s a heartbreaking human tragedy.”
Last September two wards at the Royal Hospital for Children were closed and patients moved to the adjoining Queen Elizabeth University Hospital as Health Protection Scotland (HPS) investigated water contamination incidents.
An HPS investigation found 23 cases of bloodstream infections with organisms potentially linked to water contamination were identified between 29 January and 26 September 2018.
Labour MSP Anas Sarwar raised the case during First Minister’s Questions
The whistleblower who contacted Mr Sarwar claimed this investigation found up to 26 cases of water supply infections in children in the cancer wards in 2017, and that one child with cancer died after contracting an infection.
In March a report found some areas of the hospital cannot be cleaned properly because they are awaiting repair work.
The inspection was ordered by Ms Freeman after patients became infected with a fungus linked to pigeon faeces.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGCC) insisted its “overriding priority” is the safety of its patients, and that tests have shown the water supply is safe.
The Glasgow MSP has called for a “full public apology”.
Mr Sarwar said: “I have had information shared with me which shows that senior managers have been repeatedly alerted to the fact that a previous review failed to include cases of infection related to the water supply in 2017.
“Central to this whistleblowing evidence is that one child died and, to this day, the parents have never been told the true cause of their child’s death. That isn’t just a scandal, it is a heart-breaking human tragedy.”
Mr Sarwar said he has had difficult information shared with him before but this case “felt different”.
He added: “I immediately imagined how I would feel if that was my child if I was that parent. I would want to know – I would expect answers.”
Mr Sarwar raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions and called on Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to personally intervene.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Patient safety is paramount and that’s exactly why the Health Secretary commissioned the independent review into the design, build, commissioning and maintenance of the QEUH and its also why, on 18 September, a public inquiry into the issues at the hospital and the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh was announced.
“We are determined to address the concerns of patients and families and the Health Secretary is committed to returning to Parliament to set out the full details of the public inquiry as soon as possible.”
An NHSGGC spokesman said: “We rigorously review all cases of infection to ensure that our patients are appropriately cared for.
“We also completed an additional clinical review of the cases from 2017 in July 2019. This was carried out by senior clinical staff and it was concluded that no further action was required.
“Further to this, we have been working closely with external advisers Health Protection Scotland, assisted by Strathclyde University, on a review of cases of infection over a period from January 2015 to September 2019 and this report is due imminently.”
The health board said, “extensive measures” have been put in place and the water has been assessed by an independent expert who confirmed it is “wholesome”, meaning it is safe to use.
It added that when a patient dies, clinical teams discuss with family members the cause of death and the factors that have contributed to this, where they are known.
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