Independent experts to assist Scottish Hospitals Inquiry investigations

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

AN expert panel has been appointed by the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry to gather evidence and carry out further investigations at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.

The independent specialists will focus on matters related to healthcare acquired infections (HAI). The Inquiry has heard evidence from patients and families detailing the impact and the toll taken by issues during treatment at QEUH.

The Inquiry will determine how issues relating to adequacy of ventilation, water contamination, and other matters impacted on patient safety and care and whether these issues could have been prevented.

It will also examine the impacts of these issues on patients and their families and whether the buildings provide a suitable environment for the delivery of safe, effective care.

Lord Brodie, chair of the inquiry, said, “With every stage of the Inquiry’s investigations, I am mindful of the life-changing impact patients and families have experienced as a result at the issues found at the QEUH. Their testimony led to multiple lines of investigation which we continue to pursue.

“Therefore, I have instructed a panel of experts, who will give an independent and unbiased assessment of the evidence gathered to assist with our investigations.”

Dr Sara Mumford will convene the panel. She is currently the director of Infection Prevention and Consultant Microbiologist at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. She is an expert in infection prevention, infectious diseases, patient safety and medical management.

The other two members of the panel are Linda Dempster, an infection prevention practitioner for over 20 years, who has previously been involved in the QEUH Independent Review in 2019; and Dr Jimmy Walker, a microbiologist with over 30 years’ experience in water microbiology and decontamination.

The independent Inquiry was established to investigate the construction of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus (QEUH) in Glasgow and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences (RHCYP/DCN).

It will make recommendations to ensure any past mistakes are not repeated in future NHS infrastructure projects.

Earlier this month the Inquiry announced a series of public hearings scheduled for next year. Starting in the April, evidence will be taken relating to the RHCYP and DCN Edinburgh, followed by a hearing in the June relating to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus (QEUH), Glasgow.

The April 2023 hearings will focus on:

  • Development of the reference design, which looks into the approach taken in developing the hospital building specification
  • The procurement process
  • Conclusion of the contract

At a future date the Inquiry will examine why RHCYP was not opened in 2019, and then the reasoning to open in 2021.

The investigations will consider the problems and potential defects identified with the key building systems in 2019, the remedial scheme adopted to address these issues and the reasoning behind the decision taken by the then cabinet secretary for health and sport to fully open the hospital in 2021.

Affected patients and family members have given evidence relating the to the QEUH campus examining how they were impacted during treatment at the hospital.

The next set of Glasgow hearings, scheduled for June, will focus on the testimony of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde nursing and clinical staff.

Further detail on both sets of hearings will be released in due course, with a procedural hearing on Edinburgh likely to take place in early 2023.