'Systemic problems' at Glasgow's superhospital

19 March 2019, 14:01

queen elizabeth hospital glasgow

Communication between infection control doctors and nurses at a hospital where several patients died was not good, a Holyrood committee has been told.

MSPs are holding an inquiry into infections in Scotland's hospitals after two patients died at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow, having contracted an infection linked to pigeon droppings.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee,the director of quality assurance at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Alastair Delaney, said that there were systemic problems in relationships and governance at the QEUH.

Committee convener, Scottish Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald, referred to comments made by Mr Delaney in his report on the QEUH (published earlier this month) which stated that he had encountered "challenges" in the relationship between the estates department and the infection control team at the hospital.

Mr Macdonald said that having heard evidence from witnesses, it was suggested that infection control doctors and nurses did not appear to have close working relationships with those managing domestic services in a number of hospitals.

Mr Delaney said: "It was a feature of what we found in the QEUH and its associated sites.

"It's also something that we would be concerned about across the country as a whole because it is absolutely essential that there is good working relationships between the nursing staff, particularly for infection control, and the buildings staff.

"Obviously in that particular circumstance, we had quite a large backlog of repairs to be done and the communication was not particularly great about how those were being managed and what happened when they were being reported and potentially having to be reported again.

"So it demonstrated that that level of leadership governance was really important.

"The benefit for us in that inspection was that we were able to stand back and look at that, and it became a key feature because the frontline staff were doing as good a job as they could in the circumstances and we give praise to them in the actual report.

"Some of the problems were more systemic - about governance and relationships."

Mr Macdonald also said that evidence submitted had indicated that the undertaking of certain routine maintenance and repairs was often carried out without consultation with infection control professionals at the hospital.

Over the course of its inquiry, the committee will examine whether infection control is adequate and whether more can be done to improve patient safety at hospitals across Scotland.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman last month said that public confidence in the NHS had been "shaken" by the outbreak of hospital infections.

Last week, 63-year-old Mito Kaur died after she had contracted a fungal infection after being admitted to the QEUH on January 7.

A statement released by solicitor Aamer Anwar on behalf of her family said that "many questions remain unanswered" over her death.

Police were instructed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal to obtain a full report, with an independent post-mortem to be carried out subsequently.