Hospitals: Patients are regularly referred from the Vale of Leven Hospital to the RAH and the QE University Hospital.

By Bill Heaney

A Scottish parliament committee is to examine hospital safety following the deaths of two patients from an infection linked to pigeon droppings.

The health committee inquiry comes in the wake of the deaths at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Pigeons: Is it just near hospitals where these birds are a health hazard? Pictures at Bonhill Bridge and Dumbarton East Station by Bill Heaney and Jim Crosthwaite

The patients died after contracting a fungal infection linked to the droppings.

They included a 10-year-old boy who died in December after contracting the Cryptococcus infection.

A 73-year-old woman, who had been infected with the bug, died at the same hospital in January, with officials initially saying it was from an unrelated condition.

The Scottish government has previously announced an independent external review following the fatalities.

But MSPs on the health committee will have a wider focus, looking at healthcare facilities across the country, the risks that exist and how these should be reported and addressed.

The committee’s convener, Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald, said: “Like everyone across Scotland, I was deeply troubled by the nature of the deaths at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

“There are a number of ongoing investigations into what happened, but this raises wider issues about the safety and control of healthcare environments in Scotland.

“The committee is determined to understand how standards are upheld and consider existing protocols in place.

“We are also going to look at the adequacy of systems and processes for reporting and controlling outbreaks when they do occur.

“This is why we want to hear from healthcare professionals from across Scotland.”

Committee’s questions to staff:

  • What is the scale of health problems acquired from the healthcare environment in Scotland?
    What and where are the main risks?
  • Are the current systems and processes in Scotland adequate for monitoring, reporting, eliminating or controlling these hazards?

The inquiry also follows the death of a patient at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on 7 February after contracting the hospital infection stenotrophomonas maltophilia. The bacteria were named as a contributing factor in the death.

Two babies died after contracting the staphylococcus aureus bacterium at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital last month.

Shortly before that, one patient at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow became seriously ill after contracting the fungal infection Mucor.

And in December, a 10-year-old boy and an adult died after becoming infected with cryptococcus, an infection related to pigeon droppings, at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Anyone wishing to participate is advised to contact the committee at this address:

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