The review seeks to identify whether the design, build, commissioning and maintenance of the hospitals have had an adverse impact on the risk of healthcare associated infection.
Since opening its doors in 2015 the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) has had problems with microorganisms. These have been linked to the ventilation system and issues with water quality. A small number of patients have contracted severe infections.
In January, fungal infections due to contact with pigeon droppings in the hospital caused the death of a 10-year-old child and 73-year-old woman.
In February 2016, less than a year after its opening, surgeries were cancelled after a plumbing leak led to sewage entering a brain surgery unit, resulting in a theatre temporarily being shut at the Institute of Neurosciences.
In August 2017, cladding was removed from the fourth to the 14th floors of the QEUH when investigations revealed it was similar to that used at Grenfell tower.
One month later a glass pane fell from the 10th floor near the main entrance. Glass panes had previously fallen off the building in May and July of 2017.
In September 2018, two wards had to be temporarily closed at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) when six children became infected with bacteria from the water supply.
As of July this year, hospital bosses had to cough up nearly £450,000 on pest control after patients contracted an infection caused by pigeon excretion.
Concern exists, both public and professional, that the built environment at the QEUH and RHC is compromising best practice in infection control and prevention and increasing the risk of healthcare-associated infection.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has now launched a review into the hospitals, saying the safety and well-being of all patients and their families is her top priority, and should be the primary consideration in all NHS construction projects.
“I want to make sure this is the case for all future projects, which is why, following calls from affected parents, I am announcing a public inquiry to examine the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital sites,” Freeman said.
The Health Secretary has appointed two public healthcare experts to co-chair the Independent Review. On 27 June, the co-chairs launched a formal call for evidence. The review will specifically look at the new QUEH and RHC. Documentation has been reviewed and individuals involved in statutory inquiries or independent reviews have been consulted as part of the review. This autumn, interviews will be held with key stakeholders.
The local community welcomed the announcement of the public inquiry, but at the same time reflected that the inquiry is long overdue. Alison Johnstone, of the Scottish Greens, commented that the Health Secretary must not use the inquiry as “an excuse to avoid legitimate parliamentary scrutiny”.
The recommendations made by the review will be made public and the Scottish Government will inform Parliament of its response to the review’s recommendations.