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'Two more children' died at Glasgow hospital after contracting infections

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Anas Sarwar has revealed bombshell claims about two more children dying at a scandal-hit hospital after contracting infections.

The Scottish Labour leader said clinicians contacted him to make the allegations about the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow (QUEH).

He told Nicola Sturgeon there had been a case of deadly aspergillus in a child cancer patient around the same time, and in the same ward, as the case of tragic civil servant Andrew Slorance.

Father of five Andrew died at the QUEH in December 2020 and his wife Louise accused NHS bosses of not informing her about repeated references to aspergillus in his medical notes.

Sarwar also said a clinician had told him of a case in the last two months of a child acquiring a waterborne infection and dying.

He said: "Last week I raised the case of Andrew Slorance who died in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after contracting a fungal infection, aspergillus, linked to water and the environment.

"Since then I have been contacted by senior clinicians who have spoken out about two more deaths.

"Another case of aspergillus in a child cancer patient around the same time, in the same ward as Andrew.

"And in the last two months, a child in the paediatric hospital acquired a waterborne infection - like Milly Main - and died."

Tragic Milly, who was a ten year old cancer patient, died at the QUEH in 2017 after picking up an infection that was "probably" linked to the hospital environment

The Scottish Hospitals Inquiry is investigating the construction of the QEUH campus after issues at the flagship site were linked to the deaths of two children. (Image: PA)

Sarwar continued: "Nicola Sturgeon's holding answers are no longer good enough, she has been in charge of this scandal from start to finish.

"This is gross negligence."

Sarwar said NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, as well as the Scottish Government oversight board and the First Minister, had all failed.

He said: "She must sack the leadership of the health board. Today. Sack the oversight board. Today. And use emergency powers to take control of this hospital."

The senior clinicians at the QEUH have also spoken out.

Labour said they did so anonymously because of a fear of retribution "due to the culture of bullying and intimidation" at the board.

Senior clinician A said: "I think there are serious questions for the Health Board and the Scottish Government. Are they doing enough to keep people safe?

"There was another case of aspergillus around the same time as Andrew Slorance and in the same ward.

"A child cancer patient died after contracting the infection in November 2020.

"It begs the question - if there was a case as far back as the 4th of November what did the health board do to investigate it? Did they look for an environmental source and could future infections have been prevented?

"In cases like this, where two patients have died of aspergillus in short order, a HIIAT Red report should have been filed and therefore the Health Secretary informed.

"Why was this then not acted on? We could have lost the chance to prevent subsequent infections and deaths."

Senior clinician B said: "There is a culture of bullying and intimidation.

"Despite the reassurances from the health board and the Scottish Government, there continue to be cases of infection linked to water and the environment including Stenotrophomonas.

"There is a cultural of denial and the absence of proper investigations into these cases.

"The result is inaction with potentially fatal consequences.

"Within the last few months there has been at least one death in the paediatric hospital where a child was infected by a bacteria linked to water and the environment.

"We can't hide behind a public inquiry. We need urgent action now so we can make it safe and provide the necessary reassurances about the risk from environment and water supply."

Sturgeon said she would look into the cases "as a matter of urgency".

She said of the first case involving aspergillus: "I will look into the specific issue that has been raised and I will come back to Anas Sarwar. These are, again, important issues. I don't have the details of the case he is raising, but I will certainly as a priority look into this."

She also said: "Let me say this very clearly and very bluntly - no clinician should fear bullying or intimidation in coming forward."

She added: "Sacking a health board does not change overnight the practice in a hospital. That is why the actual work has to be done. When concerns are raised about the cause of someone's death, then that has to be properly investigated so that the action that is then taken as a result of that is the right action."

A spokesperson for NHSGGC said:

"It's a painful tragedy for any family to lose their child and we would like to share our deepest condolences with both families. We welcome open discussions with anyone who may have questions around care provided and would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the families to speak with us directly, when they feel able to do so.

"Infection control procedures at the QEUH are rigorous and of the highest standard. The Hospitals Public Inquiry is currently underway, and we have been providing every support to the inquiry team and will continue to do so. We are also providing support to both patients and staff throughout the process.

"We would like to reassure the public that the clinical care we provide to our patients within the QEUH and RHC is of a high standard and we afford patient safety the highest possible priority.

"All NHSGGC staff are fully committed to being completely open and transparent in all that we do and for this to be repeatedly called into question does not represent a true reflection of our organisation. We support all our staff to speak up if they have concerns. All NHSGGC staff are protected to do so through our Whistleblowing Policy. The policy allows individuals to raise concerns confidentially and for them to be investigated.

"We want to thank all our teams for their continuing commitment to our patients, their families, and their colleagues during this unprecedented time."

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