Nicola Sturgeon and Tory leader Jackson Carlaw.

By Lizzie Healey

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon brought the Scottish Parliament up to date on the question of infections in hospitals which have seen deaths occur over the past two weeks.

The matter was raised by stand-in Tory leader Jackson Carlaw who described the death of two infants at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow as “desperate news”.

He added: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the two babies who have died. For any new parents, there can be no news worse to bear, and it will have been difficult for the many dedicated healthcare staff involved as well.”

Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to express her “heartfelt and sincere condolences to the parents of the two babies who died after contracting a staphylococcus aureus infection.

“A third baby remains in neonatal intensive care and I am sure that the best wishes and thoughts of everyone across the Parliament are with that child, their parents and their wider family.”

The government’s primary concern—and that of the health board—was the safety and well-being of patients and their families at all times, she added – “The health board is taking all necessary steps to manage the incident and to ensure patient safety. It has been in contact with affected families and with other families in the unit to advise them of the incident and the actions that it is taking.

“Those actions include regular screening of the newborn children and the provision of information to patients, families and staff. Enhanced cleaning schedules have been put in place and a review of standard infection control precautions—for example, hand hygiene, the cleaning of equipment and the correct use of personal protective equipment—is also being undertaken. Finally, the health board has asked Health Protection Scotland to investigate the incident and to provide a report.”

Nicola Sturgeon added: “Staphylococcus aureus is, unfortunately, not an uncommon infection in people in hospital, including babies in neonatal units. Indeed, the infection can be found in about one in four people.

“That makes it all the more important that hospitals have in place rigorous infection control procedures. It is my job and the health secretary’s [Jeane Freeman] job—working with the board, Health Protection Scotland and, indeed, the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate—to ensure that that is the case. For now, I know that for all of us, our thoughts will be with the families affected.”

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