Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Minister Jeanne Freeman.

By Bill Heaney 

The infection bugged Queen Elizabeth University Hospital had fatal flaws in its supposedly showpiece design.

It cost almost £1 billion but the air ventilation, the water supply procedure for the use of sinks were not up to scratch.

Borders Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne quizzed Health Secretary Jeane Freeman about it in the Holyrood parliament.

She wanted assurances that the same mistakes would not be repeated at the new sick kids’ hospital in Lothian.

Michelle Ballantyne asked: “Given that the Royal hospital for children and young people—the sick kids—in Edinburgh is due to open on 9 July and shares the same design concept and is being built by the same contractors as the Queen Elizabeth university hospital, has the cabinet secretary received assurance that the same issues will not be experienced there?”

Jeane Freeman replied: “NHS Lothian, for the sick kids’ hospital in Edinburgh, and other boards where we have new buildings, such as in Orkney, were tasked with ensuring that they had the proper assurance that the immediate lessons that we had learned from the Queen Elizabeth university hospital in relation to air ventilation, water supply and the use of sinks had been applied in the design and construction of those new buildings. We have that assurance. NHS Lothian did not take ownership of the site until it was absolutely assured that those steps had been taken.”

Asked about progress with the inquiry into what had gone wrong at the Queen Elizabeth, which is used by patients from West Dunbartonshire, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport said: “Since their appointment, the co-chairs of the independent review have consulted extensively with experts and established systems for stakeholder contact.

“In line with the Britton report recommendations, they will publicly present the preliminary terms of reference and ask for feedback—they will consult on those.

“They will also formally seek submissions of evidence and launch the review’s website and contact details. That is all important, because it is critical that a wide range of views and information is considered.”

The Queen Elizabeth university hospital is one of Europe’s largest hospitals, with 1,100 patient rooms and 14 floors, and was built on the site of the Southern general hospital in Govan.


Shona Robison, Jackie Baillie and Vale of Leven Hospital.

Meanwhile, Dumbarton and Lomond MSP Jackie Baillie says Jeane Freeman was brought in by the First Minister as Health Secretary in a bid to reverse the decline in the health service brought about under Shona Robison. But a year on, performance in the NHS has failed to improve.

The most recent performance report for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde shows that they are failing to meet their performance targets in 10 key areas, including GP Out of Hours, a service which has experienced extensive problems at the Vale of Leven Hospital for more than a year.

In A&E, NHS GGC missed their 95% target by more than 7% and their performance declined from 92.8% last year to 87.9% this year.

In delayed discharge, health boards have a target of nil patients delayed. In NHS GGC, 211 patients were delayed across the board area this year, up from last year when the figure was 202 patients.

The health board also missed their target of having 80% of patients admitted for treatment within 18 weeks, to date just 77.7% of patients were admitted, down on last year’s figure of 88.6%.

For key diagnostic tests, 3630 patients have waited longer than 6 weeks, again the health board missed their target of 1800. The health board are also expected to treat 80% of patients suspected of having cancer within 62 days, so far this year they have missed this target by almost 5%. The health board also missed their target on MSSA and MRSA, Freedom of Information Requests and Sickness Absence.

In addition, the performance paper also highlights that between January and May 2019 there have been 222 closures of Out of Hours Services across the board area. We already know that almost 50 closures were experienced at the Vale of Leven Hospital alone between January and April this year. While there is no official target for GP Out of Hours, the health board have committed to review the service for the remainder of 2019/20.

Jackie Baillie said: ““Despite Jeane Freeman being brought in to reverse the declining performance of our health service, health boards are achieving worsening performance.

“NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde continues to fail to meet it’s performance targets with more and more patients waiting longer in A&E, experiencing delayed discharge or waiting longer for treatment.

“In addition, our GP Out of Hours service has suffered severe decline with more and more closures each year meaning patients are having to travel even further for the most basic treatment.

“It’s time that this Scottish Government replaced their warm words with action to improve the health service across the board.”


NHS GGC Performance Report available:

  • Only 81.4% of cancer patients started treatment within the 62 day standard in the quarter ending March 2019, down from 85.0% in the same period in 2018.
  • Just 50.5 per cent of the 83,787 patients who had a first clinical outpatient appointment with an AHP Musculoskeletal service were seen within 4 weeks of referral for quarter ending 31 March 2019, up from 47.1% in the same quarter in 2018. 
  • Just 63.8 per cent of patients suffering chronic pain had their first appointment within 18 weeks of referral in March 2019, down from 71.5 per cent in the same quarter in 2018.
  • Only 68.4 per cent of inpatients and day cases were treated within the SNP’s 12-week Treatment Time Guarantee in quarter ending March 2019, down from 75.6 per cent in the same quarter in 2018.
  • Consultant vacancies were at 7.8% (452.3WTE)  in March 2019, up from 7.5% (WTE) in 2018. Nursing vacancies were at 5.0% (3,143.7 WTE) compared to 4.5% (2,814.3 WTE) in 2018. 

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