Crown probing second infection death at Glasgow Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

Crown probing second infection death at Glasgow Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

Originally published on The Herald

The Crown Office said it was looking into the death of a 73-year-old woman earlier this month at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

The Crown is already looking at the death of a 10-year-old boy at the £842m hospital in December who died after an infection by the Cryptococcus fungus. 

The development coincided with MSPs deciding to hold their own inquiry into infections at QEUH and other hospitals to help avoid further tragedies.

Holyrood’s health and sport committee will start taking evidence in March.

SNP Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has ordered a review of the design, delivery and maintenance of the QEUH, but has insisted its infection control is up to standard.

However it also emerged yesterday the Health & Safety Executive issued NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with an improvement notice over the QEUH in November.

The health board “failed to provide medical staff with suitable respiratory protective equipment” to guard against infections, such as the TB bacterium, in two wards.

The Scottish Tories also highlighted official data showing QEUH spends below the national average on cleaning. 

The hospital spends £40 per square per metre per year, against a national average of £49.

With some acute hospitals spending as little as £34 per square metre per year and others spending more than double that, the Tories said it was a “postcode lottery”. 

Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “Given the different sizes, responsibilities and geographic locations of these hospitals, it would be unrealistic to expect an identical spend.

“However, these statistics show some hospitals are spending considerably less than half the amount of other facilities of comparable size and speciality.

“The SNP government needs to explain why that is as a matter of urgency.”

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Procurator Fiscal has received reports in connection with the deaths of a 10-year-old boy and a 73-year-old woman at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in December 2018 and January 2019 respectively.

"The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the deaths, under the direction of the Crown's health and safety division, is ongoing and the family will be kept updated in relation to any significant developments."

The Holyrood inquiry followed pressure from Mr Briggs, who said infections at QEUH appeared to be spreading as though in “Victorian times”.

Labour convener Lewis Macdonald said “The Committee agreed to undertake a piece of work to identify the scale of any health problems acquired from the healthcare environment in Scotland while also looking into the wider implications for health facilities across Scotland.

“The Committee will hold an evidence gathering session on March 19 with the relevant body and is clear that its line of inquiry will not impinge upon any separate Government or criminal inquiries.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "As the Health Secretary set out to Parliament last week, an independent expert review will look at the hospital's design, commissioning, construction, handover and maintenance, including how these matters support effective infection prevention and any other areas considered necessary by those carrying out the review.

"The Health Secretary has asked the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate to fully inspect and review this incident and to make any further recommendations they consider appropriate.

"Any committee activity is, of course, a matter for the Scottish Parliament's Health and SportCommittee to determine.

"The Scottish Government and the NHS will always engage positively with the Health Committee on any matters they consider."

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