Crisis-hit Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow broke the law

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Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow (Image: Getty)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) with an Improvement Notice after the death of a 10-year-old boy patient who contracted Cryptococcus from bird droppings. Failure to make the necessary improvements on Ward 4C, for kidney transplant and cancer patients, could result in fines or jail terms for bosses. The HSE said it had written to NHSGGC chief executive, Jane Grant, saying it had identified “contraventions of health and safety law in relation to the standards of ventilation in some wards”.

It said: “You have failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the ventilation system within ward 4C is suitable and sufficient to ensure that high-risk patients who are vulnerable to infection are protected from exposure to potentially harmful airborne microbiological organisms.”

An HSE spokesman confirmed: “We have written identifying contraventions of health and safety law in relation to the standards of ventilation in some wards. We have also served an Improvement Notice requiring Greater Glasgow Health Board to assess and review the standard of ventilation in one ward in particular and prepare a plan for any upgrades required.

“We note that hospital management are currently taking active steps to address these issues. While our investigation is ongoing, we will remain in regular contact with the board.”

Last night, Miss Grant said: “We are sorry for the distress that patients and their families have experienced and want to assure them and the public that we are working with the Scottish Government to do everything necessary to remedy the situation.

“I also want to thank our staff for the commitment and professionalism they have demonstrated. Patients who require specialist ventilation are cared for in Ward 4B, which is a fully HEPA-filtered (High Efficiency Particulate Air) ward. As a further precaution, we introduced mobile HEPA filters in Ward 4C in January as part of control measures when we were investigating infections.”

Labour health spokesman Monica Lennon said: “This is another worrying development and it’s vital that NHSGGC cooperates fully. Patients, families and staff need to have complete confidence in the safety of the hospital environment but the culture of secrecy at NHSGGC has made this impossible. 

“Scottish Labour fought for a public inquiry into the QEUH and the new Sick Kids in Edinburgh because there is a growing body of evidence that these hospitals are not fit for purpose.”

Among the issues at the QEUH  is the death of 10-year-old cancer patient Milly Main  in 2017 of an infection linked to the water supply.  

A patient on the same ward, Mason Djemat, three, died three weeks earlier.

The HSE investigation began after the death of a child from Cryptococcus. 

It also looked at the death of a female patient who had the same infection and died. 

However, it was later discovered that was not a factor in her death.

Earlier this month, the NHS confirmed that it had begun legal action against Brookfield Multiplex, the contractor involved in building the QEUH.

An inquiry into its design, fabric and construction was also announced by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. 

The health board has also been placed on “special measures” over the problems at the hospital.

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