Credit: Flickr / NIAID

Theodore Wilcocks


A bacterial outbreak at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) in Glasgow has prompted the move of 22 child cancer patients.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said earlier this week that the 22 patients were moved to the adjoining Queen Elizabeth University Hospital as a precautionary measure, whilst internal investigations are carried out into the source of the outbreak. It is now known that at least six patients from the city’s flagship £1bn children’s hospital are being treated for bacteraemia, the presence of bacteria in the blood.

Scottish Labour has called for an inquiry into the outbreak as it may have delayed vital chemotherapy treatment for some patients.

Anas Sarwar, the shadow secretary for health, speaking at First Minister’s questions said: “Can the First Minister please address this directly but also ask the Cabinet Secretary to instigate an urgent investigation of hospital to give full answers and full transparency in the interests of those patients, their families and the wider community and to guarantee that we can minimise the risk of this ever happening again.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declined calls for an investigation but did say that she would personally look into the case and that data on chemotherapy delays would be provided, stating that the situation is “deeply regrettable”.

She also assured the parliament that “while no patients with bacterial infections are currently giving cause for concern it’s very important that all precautions are taken to prevent any further infection.”

The news comes after a spate of infections earlier this year, where four children were reported to have been treated for illnesses possibly relating to issues with the water supply at the RHC Schiehallion Unit. Between January and June of this year, specific concerns were raised over the water supply to wards 2A and 2B.

The Health Board is looking for permanent solutions to the issue as public concern for the health of the children grows, since the wards in question treat children with very low immunity to infections.  A decline in infection cases following the first outbreak was thought have followed the replacing of some tap parts and effective chlorine-based treatments this year. Patients have been moved so that deep cleaning with peroxide vapour can be carried out and cameras will also be put down the drains to search for biofilm build-up, similar to that seen in domestic sinks.

Parents of the children have expressed their frustrations with the situation and have confirmed the reports of treatment delays.

A spokesperson for the hospital said: “Patient safety is the one key overriding issue and this temporary move will enable our technical experts to make thorough investigations.”