The culture at the health board responsible for the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) has been described as “rotten at the core” – after it was reported that another child has died at the Glasgow site.
Earlier in the week, a report leaked by a whistleblower indicated the Greater Glasgow and Clyde board was told areas of the flagship #800 million campus were at a “high risk” of infection before opening in 2015.
Another two reports, also leaked to Labour MSP Anas Sarwar, suggest issues were still pervasive at the hospital in 2017 and 2018.
The death of 10-year-old Milly Main in August 2017 after she had beaten cancer has been linked to an infection caused by contaminated water at the site.
On Sunday, the Herald on Sunday newspaper reported that a young patient who was receiving treatment contracted a hospital-acquired infection and died earlier this week.
Mr Sarwar and Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, met with the parents of children receiving treatment at the site on Saturday.
In a statement released by the group of 15 parents, they said they have no confidence in the board and believe it is not fit for purpose, adding those responsible should not remain in place while an investigation is carried out.
They also asked whether the site is safe and why their children being given prophylaxis antibiotics – which is said to increase the risk of resistance and other side effects.
Speaking to the PA News agency, Mr Sarwar said: “It’s clear that the culture is rotten at the core of the health board.
“It’s clear that there is a culture there of silencing, of bullying and intimidation.
“One thing that needs to be remembered is that none of this would have potentially come to light if it wasn’t for the whistleblower putting their head above the parapet and risking their own job and sharing the information with me.
“It should not rely on a whistleblower, it shouldn’t rely on MSPs, it shouldn’t rely on a free press, although that’s all important, to get truth and answers about what’s happening in our National Health Service and to get transparency for and answers for the parents, but that’s what’s happened in this case.
“I honestly don’t believe that the health board would have acted appropriately if we hadn’t gone public. These are issues that have been raised with management for years and they have failed to act.”
Mr Sarwar also said he believes Health Secretary Jeane Freeman had been “kept in the dark” over the extent of issues at the site.
“I think Jeane Freeman has been kept in the dark on a lot of these issues,” said Mr Sarwar.
“I find it completely unbelievable that the reports that I presented in Parliament on Thursday showing that they knew the water supply was not safe and there was high risk back in 2015 and again in 2017, and then again in 2018, that it was the first time that Jeane Freeman had ever seen these documents and didn’t know they existed.
“If that was a health board being transparent, being open, given what’s happened in the last few weeks, they should have shown that to the Cabinet Secretary and they should have been open and transparent about it.
“The fact that they weren’t show that there’s still a culture of cover-up, a culture of bullying, a culture of intimidation, and a culture of silences.”
The Scottish Labour MSP has called on the management at the board to step aside in order to have a truly independent investigation into the infections at the hospital campus.
Mr Sarwar added: “Whilst these people remain on the scene, they compromise the investigation and also they compromise the trust in whatever the investigation comes out with.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said that it is bound by rules of patient confidentiality when asked about the report of the death this week.
“We need to take care when discussing individual cases as we are bound by strict rules of patient confidentiality,” said a spokeswoman for the board.
“The issue is being appropriately managed and Health Protection Scotland has been informed. As this involves a single case, we have no further comment to make.”