Local health board have lodged a fresh claim for defects that led to a public inquiry
By Lucy Ashton
The company which built the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is facing a new £18m compensation bill from the NHS for defects leading to a public inquiry into infection deaths.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has lodged a fresh claim against Multiplex, which oversaw the project to build the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in Govan, seeking £18.2m.
The health board is already suing the construction giant for £73m in damages over a string of design flaws that it claims compromised “safe and effective healthcare” for patients at the QEUH and Royal Hospital for Children (RHC).
They include problems with the water system that led to it becoming contaminated.
The board instructed lawyers to raise court proceedings “as a matter of urgency” in December 2019 amid mounting pressure over bacterial outbreaks amongst children that were linked to the water supply and ventilation systems.
It has emerged that court papers have been lodged for a separate claim related to the system that controls the temperature of the hospital.
Official documents show NHSGGC is seeking an additional £18.2m for problems with the chilled water system, which uses water instead of air to cool larger buildings.
The health board has been carrying out remedial works and the cost is being met by the Scottish Government ahead of the outcome of the legal case.
One of the biggest projects has focused on improving ventilation in cancer wards at the RHC, where a ten-year-old girl had been treated for several weeks before she died
An inquiry concluded a water-linked infection was at least in part responsible for the death of Milly Main, pictured left, in 2017 after she was treated in ward 2A of the hospital.
The Crown Office is now investigating her death and also those of two other children, as well as a 73-year-old woman.
The families of children who developed airborne or water linked infections have been giving evidence to the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry, which is also examining problems with the Royal Hospital For Children And Young People in Edinburgh.
Earlier this week, a patient diagnosed with a rare cancer told the inquiry she experienced “frightening” fits that were linked to a hospital-acquired infection.
Molly Cuddihy was fitted with a line for chemotherapy treatment that later became infected and caused temperature spikes and fits.
Her body went into septic shock – a life-threatening condition that happens when blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection.
Ms Cuddihy, pictured right, told the hearing how her doctor, Dr Sastry, had to liaise with a specialist in Edinburgh about her treatment because “no-one really knew and understood what this bug was”.
The health board is suing Multiplex Construction Europe Limited, performance guarantor BPY Holdings, project supervisors Capita Property and Infrastructure Ltd and lead consultant Currie and Brown UK.
The defenders have challenged the action, which was lodged on January 22, 2020, on the grounds that it may be “time barred” and a decision is awaited.
The board is also negotiating a settlement with Multiplex to replace the linings of the walls in the hospital atrium.
A spokesperson for NHSGGC said: “The chilled water system provides chilled water to air handling units, fan coil units, underfloor cooling pipe and chilled beams, which are located throughout the hospital for comfort cooling.
“The system has suffered leaks resulting in the need for repairs and replacements and a Court of Session summons was signeted on April 29 2021.
“This summons describes a claim for £18.2m and is in addition to the original court action.”
Multiplex was founded in Australia but is currently headquartered in London and specialises in high-rise buildings, stadiums and health and developments.
The company is overseeing a major project to extend the University of Glasgow campus.