Local NHS board named in hospital corporate homicide probe

Milly Main died after contracting an infection at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus. Her mother, Kimberley Darroch,  is pictured here with Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who says the  health board has been engaged in denial and cover-up.

By Bill Heaney

Scotland’s largest health board, which covers West Dunbartonshire,  has been named as a suspect in a corporate homicide investigation following the deaths of four patients at a showpiece hospital.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) informed families of the development via a closed Facebook group set up during a water contamination crisis.

The board confirmed it had received an update from the Crown Office.

But it added there was no indication that prosecutors had “formed a final view”.

  • Milly Main: Criminal investigation over hospital deaths
  • Hospitals inquiry: Mother says daughter’s death was ‘murder’
  • Milly Main: Girl’s infection ‘probably’ caused by hospital environment

Police Scotland launched a criminal investigation in 2021 into a number of deaths at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), including that of 10-year-old Milly Main.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) instructed officers to investigate the deaths of Milly, two other children and 73-year-old Gail Armstrong at the Glasgow campus.

Milly’s mother, Kimberley Darroch, previously told a separate public inquiry into the building of several Scottish hospitals that her child’s death was “murder”.

A review earlier found an infection which contributed to Milly’s death was probably caused by the QEUH environment.

Molly Cuddihy, pictured right,  contracted a rare bacterial infection when she was undergoing cancer treatment

Professor John Cuddihy’s daughter, Molly, contracted an infection while being treated for cancer and later gave evidence at the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry.

The former senior detective described the corporate homicide investigation as “deeply troubling”.

He told BBC Scotland News: “Whilst this is undoubtedly in the public interest, it further compounds the distress, anxiety and trauma experienced by our children, their families and indeed the staff who have cared for and continue to deliver outstanding clinical care for our children.

“Whilst our confidence in the ongoing public inquiry has been significantly eroded with the unexplained loss of key personnel with whom families had developed trust, we must have faith in COPFS and indeed Police Scotland to carry out their investigations.”

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital which shares a campus with the Royal Children’s Hospital and the famous  Schiehallion Ward which opened in 2015.

In a statement on Sunday, NHSGGC said: “Our sympathies remain with the families who have been affected by events at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Children.

“We have received a communication from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) about this update to the status of their ongoing inquiry.

“It should be made clear that this letter does not indicate that the COPFS have formed a final view.

“They have thanked us for our voluntary contribution so far, and we will continue to co-operate with this investigation.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “COPFS asked Police Scotland to investigate a number of deaths at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, Glasgow.

“Our investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

‘Denial and cover-up’

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar has campaigned on behalf of the families of the children who died.

And his deputy, Dumbarton MSP and Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie has called for the resignation of the board chairperson, John Brown, and chief executive, Jane Grant.

Mr Brown retired this week and a replacement is due to be appointed by Health Secretary Michel Matheson.

Anas Sarwar said it had taken four years to get to this stage and Milly’s family could now be “one step closer” to getting justice.

Mr Sarwar added: “Throughout this entire ordeal, Kimberly and all those who lost loved ones have shown extraordinary courage, while the health board engaged in denial and cover-up.

“To this day, nobody has been held to account for what went so tragically wrong. I long argued that had this scandal occurred in the private sector, there would have been a criminal investigation.

“I hope the full force of the law is used so that no family ever again has to go through what Milly’s family have been through.”

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