Great Britain

NHS chiefs were warned of water safety risk at 'super hospital' before it opened

NHS chiefs were warned of "contamination" in the water supply at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth hospital weeks before it opened in a damning safety report, it has emerged.

Infection control doctors also raised concerns over the bug stenotrophomonas in the water supply in August 2017 - just weeks before ten-year-old cancer patient Milly Main died after contracting it.

The Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow has been at the centre of concerns over the water supply

The Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow has been at the centre of concerns over the water supply

Read more: High Court judge appointed to head public inquiry into Edinburgh's Sick Kids hospital and Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth hospital

Labour's Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar revealed a catalogue of damning failures highlighted in three separate reports conducted in 2015 - before the "super hospital" opened - and in 2017 and 2018 which raised issues over contamination of the water supply.

Independent contractors found there was "high" risk of water infection at the hospital

Milly had contracted the stenotrophomonas maltophilia bug in 2017, which was listed on her death certificate, with widespread concerns it came from the hospital's water supply.

Mr Sarwar said the latest revelations were "damning" as he set them out to Nicola Sturgeon at First Ministers Questions today.

"This shows that the health board knew that the water was contaminated when the hospital was transferred from the contractor to the health board," he said.

"A report done the week the hospital was opened revealed that the water supply was not safe and there was a high risk of infections. Yet the hospital still opened.

"Months before Milly died infection control doctors raised concerns about line infections in the children’s cancer ward.

"Three weeks before Milly died infection control doctors alerted management of further concerns about infections, escalated this to Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Government, and requested testing of the water."

Read more: Health Secretary Jeane Freeman says safety of patients always her 'top priority'

A dossier of evidence released by Mr Sarwar today also showed that just month after Milly’s death an assessment of the water supply again found the water was not safe and that there was a "high risk" of infections.

"The warnings were ignored and appropriate action was not taken," Mr Sarwar added.

"It led to the death of a child.

"If this happened in the private sector there wouldn’t be a public inquiry, there would be a criminal investigation.

The First Minister, Health Secretary and Health Board officials must detail who knew what and when. This is an unforgiveable situation."
The Scottish Government announced today that Lord Brodie will head up a public inquiry into the findings at the hospital.

"The Scottish Government is determined to get the answers that Milly's parents and parents of any children who have been treated at the Queen Elizabeth want and deserve," said Ms Sturgeon.

She pledged to look into Mr Sarwar's claims.

"The reason we have ordered the public inquiry is to make sure that in addition to all of work that has been done, there is complete transparency and if necessary complete accountability around these issues."

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