HOSPITALS INQUIRY: Girl’s chemotherapy was stopped due to water-related infection, inquiry hears

‘To find out the hospital has inflicted more pain and could have taken our child’s life is devastating,’ patient’s mother tells inquiry

A mother has told a judge-led inquiry that her daughter’s life-saving cancer treatment had to be called to a halt after she contracted a hospital-acquired infection, which she is still fighting three years on.

The young patient was being treated for leukaemia at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, which takes patients from West Dunbartonshire and Argyll,  when she started developing painful lumps and lesions on her body in 2019.

She had been first diagnosed with cancer in 2014 when she was nine years old.

The Scottish Hospital Inquiry heard test results showed the patient had developed mycobacterium chelonae – a rare infection – that likely came from a water supply in one of the hospital’s operating theatres.

Her life-saving chemotherapy had to be finished early due to needing an immediate course of treatment for the hospital-acquired infection, an inquiry heard.

QEUH and Royal Children’s Hospital in Glasgow are currently at the centre of an investigation over issues at the hospitals which have been linked to the deaths of two children.

It was ordered after patients at the Glasgow hospital died from infections linked to pigeon droppings and the water supply.

A hearing today (Monday) heard the patient caught the infection when she had her line – a catheter used to give chemotherapy treatment – removed during surgery in February 2019

Three years on, the mother said her daughter is still suffering with the infection, which she claims doctors said could take up to five years to fight off.

Speaking at the inquiry, the patient’s mother spoke about an independent case note review that looked into how her daughter contracted the infection.

She said: “The panel found that it was very highly probable that the mycobacterium infection came from the water supply in the operating theatre in the RHC.

“It concluded that the infection has had a severe impact on my daughter’s life, and it is continuing to have a severe impact on her life.”

She told the inquiry she was aware about water issues in Ward 2A of the RCH, but was told “umpteen times” that other areas of the hospital were safe.

She said: “When you’re faced with something (the infection) that’s very rare and told that the doctors don’t actually know if they can fight the infection and it’s caused by a hospital that should be safe and there to protect some of the sickest children in Scotland is horrendous.

“To find out the hospital has inflicted more pain and could have taken our child’s life is devastating.”

The patient’s mother also pointed to issues with Ward 6 in the adult hospital where her daughter was moved to after rooms at the children’s hospital were closed due to water contamination issues.

She said part of the roof at the adult hospital “blew off” and windows “fell out” of their frames.

The mother added she saw sewage bursting through tiles in one of the hospital’s corridors.

Alastair Duncan QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked how she felt about her daughter contracting an infection which prevented her from receiving her chemotherapy to fight off cancer to which she replied: “I actually can’t put into words how I feel about that.

“I am devastated and angry.”

In a closing statement, she said: “I don’t feel safe in the hospital, and I know for a fact that my daughter certainly doesn’t feel safe.

“It is not just the infections, I don’t even feel the actual building is safe. I don’t feel that the structure of the building is safe.

“I don’t feel that the health board has got the kids’ best interests, or their care is at the centre of it.”

West Dunbartonshire Council’s representative on the Health Board is SNP administration leader Cllr Jonathan McColl, who represents the Lomond Ward in Vale of Leven.

Earlier this year, an independent review found the deaths of two children at the QEUH campus were at least in part the result of infections linked to the hospital environment.

The review investigated 118 episodes of serious bacterial infection in 84 children and young people who received treatment for blood disease, cancer or related conditions at the Royal Hospital for Children at the campus.

It found a third of these infections were “most likely” to have been linked to the hospital environment.

Two of 22 deaths were “at least in part” the result of their infection, it said.

The inquiry in Edinburgh, chaired by Lord Brodie, continues this week.

Health boards are due to give their evidence at a later stage.

One comment

  1. This I am afraid is an infrastructure procurement problem.

    The method of procurement through the initial pilots pioneered by Mrs Thatcher and then taken up lock stock and barrel by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as the PFI, is I believe at the very heart of so much of the bad building extant today.

    Design and construct by the Contractor, self checking by the Contractor, self regulation by the Contractor is at the heart of the falling down schools and dreadfully built hospitals. Indeed, Grenfell told us that, and can you guess which hospital also has fire defective panels.

    The method of procurement, in large part driven to create trillions of off balance sheet borrowing whilst creating interest bearing debt assets for the masters of the financial universe, has changed an industry. And boy does the taxpayer pay heavily for the mezzanine debt through this type of borrowing

    The procurement however of whatever the asset is therefore very much subsidiary to the debt interest. And essentially leaving the construction entirely to the builder who has vested interests in driving his build cost down is the other side of the show. Sadly Joe Bloggs doesn’t care two hoots. or is not interested enough to find out. A then with a few deaths, a public enquiry perhaps, a bit of political froth, and the show goes on.

    And when I say show goes on, the young girl killed by a school wall falling down on her in Edinburgh, over eighty souls in Grenfell, two young men in our local luxury Cameron House, and now a bit of political street theatre around deaths in the new billion pound QE hospital, the show very much goes on.

    But don’t think these examples are the extent of the problem. Jerry-built infrastructure is actually all around us. Built with the largesse of the taxpayers pockets, it only hits public consciousness when something dramatic like deaths occur.

    But hey, who cares, not the average Joe. So message to Sturgeon, what ya doin about it kid, or have you got corporate interests to feed.

    Answer, nothing, we’re just like Labour on steroids!

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