By Democrat reporter
BBC Scotland is reporting that a young boy with cancer was kept isolated in a “disgusting” hospital unit, which takes patients from West Dunbartonshire and Argyll, after his mother raised concerns about the safety of the water and cleanliness, an inquiry has heard.
Sharon Ferguson said she was repeatedly lied to by staff at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus and told she was being “paranoid”.
She believes her son caught numerous infections from the environment.
Ms Ferguson was giving evidence to the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry.
Her son was eight when he was admitted in 2017 with leukaemia to the Royal Hospital for Children on the campus.
Ms Ferguson told the inquiry of several incidents – first when the boy’s temperature started spiking, then when he developed a bug in his blood, and later a septic shock episode – which all interrupted his treatment, which ran for more than two years.
She said when she “started asking questions around mid-January 2019” about conditions in the hospital, the boy was put more often in “source” – a form of isolation where a patient with an infection is separated from other patients.
“We were confined to the room in isolation and you can’t open doors or windows and no fan is allowed,” she said.
As her son was having chemotherapy, he would go to the toilet in a pot and urinate in a bottle, she told the hearing.
When he was in “source”, it would “stay in your bathroom until the nurses came to collect them and I often had to chase them to do this”.
Ms Ferguson said the hospital wards were “disgusting” with the smell of sewage, and windows falling out and cracking.
She said you “wouldn’t let a pet pig” stay in them.
Ms Ferguson told the inquiry that faeces and vomit was left uncleaned on her son’s bedrail for weeks. She described one incident where “black stuff” fell on his bed and “all over his covers”, prompting them to be immediately moved to another room.
The inquiry is investigating the QEUH and RHC in Glasgow after issues at the new flagship site were linked to the deaths of two children.
It was ordered after patients died from infections linked to pigeon droppings and the water supply.
‘Locked in your cell, miserable’
Ms Ferguson told the hearing her son was part of a review of case notes carried out later which she said concluded that two of his infections were possibly related to the hospital environment.
In a statement to the inquiry read by Ms Ferguson, the boy said when he washed his hands and showered “you felt like something was crawling on your skin and would scratch and scratch”.
He said: “Management is a joke, they couldn’t care less about any patient in the hospital.
“They think it’s fine to lie and hide behind their office doors and leave the nurses and doctors to take the anger from patients and parents.
“You try not having a hot wash for weeks and having to stay locked in your cell, miserable.
“We were deprived of a basic human right of clean air, clean water and fresh food – we got none of that.
“I was isolated and lonely, they kept us in source most of the time to stop my mum asking questions.”
Ms Ferguson said she believed some of the drugs her son was given were to prevent infections being caught from the hospital environment.
She said: “When he was first given the posaconazole in 2017, I was told by the doctors and nurses that it was to protect their lungs from the environment.”
Ms Ferguson has now been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She added: “I lost my marriage as a result of everything that went on. There was no support for us.”
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 inquiry in Edinburgh, chaired by Lord Brodie, continues.
The Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board, and NHS Lothian, are due to give their evidence at a later stage