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Parents have 'no confidence in NHS over water infection'

Parents of sick children held a private meeting on declared no confidence in NHS board.

QEUH: Parents declare no confidence in health board.
QEUH: Parents declare no confidence in health board. HEMEDIA/SWNS

Parents of sick children treated at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow say they have no confidence in the NHS board and don't believe they are being told the truth regarding infections from the water.

A private meeting, attended by Anas Sarwar and 15 of the parents, was held at the Labour MSP's constitiency office on Saturday and those in attendance declared that they believe the board is not fit for purpose.

They also unanimously agreed that they don't believe the hospital should have been opened if senior managers knew it was high risk and that those responsible for the scandal should not remain in place while the investigation happens.

The parents have also asked why their children been given prophylaxis antibiotics, which increase the risk of resistance and other side effects, if the hospital is safe.

The meeting, which was also attended by Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon, was requested by parents to learn more about the evidence that has come to light thanks to NHS whistleblowers.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that there were 26 infections linked to the water supply among children with cancer at the QEUH in 2017, including one death - ten-year-old Milly Main.

There were an additional ten infections in 2016, and leaked documents published this week revealed that health chiefs were warned of a 'high risk' of contamination when the hospital first opened.

The parents who attended today's meeting have children who have either been treated at the hospital, or are currently undergoing treatment, including in the cancer wards.

'We don't believe the hospital should have been opened if senior managers knew it was high risk. We can't wait for a public inquiry and we want answers now.'
Charmaine Lacock.

Organiser of the meeting Charmaine Lacock, whose daughter Paige Rawson is receiving treatment at the hospital for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, said: "We don't believe we are being told the truth about infections from water at the QEUH and we are not getting answers from the health board.

"As such, we have no confidence in the board and do not believe it is fit for purpose.

"The health board's approach is impacting on our health and well-being when we should be concentrating on caring for our children.

"We don't believe the hospital should have been opened if senior managers knew it was high risk. We can't wait for a public inquiry and we want answers now."

Anas Sarwar, Labour MSP for Glasgow, said: "Dozens of worried parents have been in touch following whistleblowers' claims about the water infection scandal at the QUEH, and they rightly have many questions.

"I share their deep anger at the way the board has covered up this scandal, and their belief that the board is not fit for purpose.

"The top priority is to find answers for these parents, so that no other family has to go through what they have suffered."

Monica Lennon MSP, Scottish Labour health spokesperson, said: "Families have completely lost trust and confidence in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and it's time for the health board leadership to step aside.

"Revelations that concerns were raised about the safety of the hospital before it even opened begs the question why this information was not acted on at the time?

"The public inquiry must get to the bottom of what has went wrong, but parents who need answers can't wait years - they need reassurance about the safety of their children now.

"Jeane Freeman must take the highest possible action against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and do so immediately."

'The potential link between the water supply and cases of infection in 2018 has already been fully reported.

The Health Protection Scotland report highlights all the actions that were taken by the board - together with an acknowledgement that patient safety is at the forefront of our considerations.

"This has now resulted in a safe and effective water supply."

NHSGGC spokeswoman.

Jane Grant, Chief Executive, of  NHSGGC said: "I am truly sorry that parents remain concerned about safety issues and I am absolutely committed to ensuring families are provided with the information they need and deserve.

"The Chairman and I have already met with a number of families and they told us this direct engagement was extremely valuable. We continue to offer this opportunity to all 400 families involved with Ward 6A, including the 15 families represented by Mr Sarwar.

"I would once again encourage any parent who remains concerned about the quality of care their child has received to contact me directly to arrange a meeting.

"We want to work with parents to improve how we communicate with them and we are being supported in this by Professor Craig White who has been appointed by the Cabinet Secretary as point of liaison with families.

"The Cabinet Secretary has now announced the establishment of an Oversight Board, chaired by Professor Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, to ensure appropriate governance is in place to increase public confidence in infection control and in our engagement with families.

"We welcome the additional support offered and are committed to working closely with the Scottish Government to implement any recommended additional changes and enhancements across infection control and associated engagement.

"Since the move to Ward 6A and 4B in September 2018, infection rates have been similar to other Scottish paediatric units.

"We have fully tested the water supply and ward surfaces in Ward 6A and also reviewed individual infections and found no links between individual infections and no source of infections in the ward.

"Families should be reassured that infection rates at present are within expected levels and the hospital is safe.

"The technical reports on the quality of the water supplies at the QEUH Campus mentioned by Mr Sarwar in the Scottish Parliament were not brought to the Senior Leadership Team's attention until 2018.

"Once I had been made aware of these reports by Health Facilities Scotland as part of the work we had commissioned following an increase in the number of infections on Ward 2A/2B, I ensured that immediate steps and necessary action was taken to provide assurance about the safety of the water supply.

"I want to assure the families involved at that time that there was no attempt to ignore these reports once they were brought to my attention.

"I would, therefore, hope the families who have called for changes at the top of the organisation can accept that the current leadership team have made significant efforts to address the situation.

"Every member of the team has been entirely committed throughout this difficult period to ensuring the safety and quality of care of the children.

"This has not been easy given the challenges we inherited from the previous leadership team and we accept communications with the families could have been better but I remain convinced we have the right people to take the Royal Hospital for Children forward so that it fulfils its potential to be one of the leading children's' hospitals in the UK."

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