The Scottish Hospital Inquiry began hearing oral evidence from all core participants on the 20th of September 2021.
The evidence heard concerned two Scottish hospitals, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) and the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC).
The overarching aim of the Inquiry is to consider the planning, design, construction, commissioning and, maintenance of both the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus (QEUH), Glasgow and the Royal Hospital for Children.
The Inquiry was initiated after patients at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital sadly died from infections linked to pigeon droppings and the water supply. We are representing 54 parents or family members of patients who were or are still being treated on the children’s cancer ward and the neonatal ward at the QEUH.
An independent review published on 22 March 2021, found 84 children were infected with a rare bacteria while undergoing treatment, a third of whom suffered a severe health impact.
The Inquiry began by deciding to firstly examining the physical, emotional and other effects suffered by patients and their families (in particular in respect of environmental organisms linked to infections at the QEUH) and to determine whether communication with patients and their families supported and respected their rights to be informed and to participate in respect of matters bearing on treatment.
From what we have heard thus far, a number of common issues and themes have been identified:
- Water contamination issues.
- Lack of communication and transparency. Family members received no information from the hospital and relied on the press to provide them with updates.
- An Institutional lack of honesty.
- A lack of patient autonomy and consent/ right to know of their child’s treatment.
- An inaccuracy of the medical records – missing medical records and how information was recorded.
- Patients being overdosed or under dosed with their medications.
- Non-medical amenities – Staff and parent kitchen. Inconsistent protocols with the kitchen and the playrooms in ward 2A.
- Issues with food supplied by the hospital for parents and patients.
- Cleanliness protocols being inadequate and dangerous.
- Emotional impact from the experience in the wards.
- Physical construction issues – windows falling out, mould, ventilation, electrics etc.
- Cancer treatment specific protocols not following patients when they were put in a different ward.
We have heard how the above issues have affected all patients and their family members.
We can only imagine the emotions and feelings everyone has endured. Parents admitted their children to the Hospital under the impression that they were to receive the best treatment and care you would expect from a ‘super Hospital.’ It has transpired that this cannot be any further from the truth. The experience patients and family members have endured will live with them for the rest of their lives.
We heard how parents became more concerned with the risks of their children contracting a hospital acquired infection that could be fatal, than the cancer itself. This is totally unacceptable.
The families of those affected are now anxious at having to return to the QEUH and RHC for their children’s further treatment. We also heard evidence of how one child refuses to drink water from any other source except his home. The emotional and physical effect of the issues the Hospital has had on everyone has been disheartening to hear to say the least.
Looking ahead, the Inquiry will continue to hear evidence from parents and family members of the children admitted to the Hospitals. It has been broadcast live on YouTube and the hearings are available for all to access. It remains to be seen what further evidence we will hear, however, one thing we can be certain of is that all faced the inexcusable issues noted above.
Parents are demanding answers and deserve closure. We hope the Inquiry can help them achieve this when reporting its findings to the Scottish Ministers.
Blog by Zoheb Khalid, Solicitor