By Bill Heaney
The Cameron House fire, which saw two young men perish in the smoke and flames, and the C-Diff outbreak at Vale of Leven Hospital would be at the top of the list.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has unveiled plans for Milly’s Law – based on the so-called Hillsborough model of giving bereaved families more rights.
Labour leader Anas Sarwar is campaigning for Milly’s Law to give families more rights.
This campaign has been named after 10-year-old Milly Main who was recovering from leukaemia at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital when she contracted an infection and died in 2017.
An investigation found her infection was “probably” caused by the hospital environment and a criminal probe is ongoing. Dirty water and pigeon droppings were mentioned.
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said new legislation would put families at the centre and even up the power balance between relatives and powerful institutions, such as the courts, the police and the health boards.
She referenced the Cameron House tragedy, which has seen the mother of one of the two men who died lead a public campaign for justice after hotel bosses admitted to serious failings in staff customs and practice at the luxury hotel.
She mentioned too the C-Diff outbreak at the Vale of Leven Hospital which was linked to 34 deaths.
Ms Baillie agrees that the heartbreak of those affected has been made worse by it taking seven years for relatives to receive an apology after an investigation blamed the Scottish Government and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for serious failings at the hospital.
Despite the fact that the public can already call on Legal Aid to help them meet the cost of advice and representation – and the Procurator Fiscal acts on the public’s behalf – a key part of Milly’s Law would be the creation of an “independent public advocate” to act on behalf of families of deceased persons.
The Labour health spokesperson said: “It is only because of the dogged determination of these families during their darkest hours that the truth has been revealed. That is simply not right.
“The C-Diff outbreak at the Vale of Leven Hospital in my own constituency left the families at least 34 victims fighting for an apology for seven years long years. Making them fight an uphill battle for justice when they should have been grieving was inhumane.”
Richard Dyson, 38, and Simon Midgley, 32, who died in the fire at Cameron House Hotel.
So far as Cameron House is concerned, Ms Baillie highlighted the case of the Richard Dyson, 38, and Simon Midgley, 32, who died in the fire and told how one mother, Jane Midgley, is still fighting for answers over four years on.
She said Jane has no legal representation in her fight as she is unable to get legal aid – “The problem isn’t exclusive to public health tragedies.
“It will be five years this year since the fire and despite the criminal case being concluded, Jane is still waiting for answers.
“The next stage is the fatal accident inquiry to ensure lessons are learned from this tragedy but it’s dragged on.
Today, when people are screaming out for inquiries into Downing Street’s Partygate and the Ferries Fiasco, it should be remembered that although these matters are important, they are not of the utmost importance. No one died in either of these.
Jackie Baillie said: “I was proud to be involved in the debate on the introduction of Milly’s Law. It is, however, really disappointing that the SNP and Green MSPs didn’t support this move which would have reset the balance in favour of families, not powerful public bodies.
“The relatives of those who contracted C-Diff at the Vale of Leven Hospital had to fight for years to have a public inquiry held into the outbreak. It was a long and wearing battle which, under Milly’s Law, would have been made far easier for them.
“Jane Midgley has only managed to secure a fatal accident inquiry into the Cameron House fire which claimed the life of her son and his partner because of her dogged determination. This has taken a huge toll on her personally and, under Milly’s Law, she would not have faced such a battle.
“Ordinary people who have been let down by the system, often in tragic circumstances, shouldn’t have to fight with all they have to get answers.
“People like Jane Midgley and the families of those who contracted C-Diff at the Vale deserve better and Scottish Labour will keep fighting for Milly’s Law to build a better future for Scotland.”