A public inquiry into issues at two Scottish ‘super hospitals’ will begin on Monday.
The probe will examine ventilation and building systems issues at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in Glasgow and the mothballed Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman ordered the statutory inquiry following concerns from parents. It will be chaired by Lord Brodie.
In 2019, two patients at the QEUH died from infections linked to pigeon droppings.
The £850m campus opened in 2015, bringing five facilities under one roof – the Western Infirmary, Victoria Infirmary, Southern General, The Mansionhouse Unit and the Yorkhill sick children’s hospital.
However, it has been marred with issues ever since, including a sewage leak, the discovery of fire-hazardous cladding and the deaths linked to pigeon droppings.
An independent review by Health Protection Scotland (HPS) into the water supply confirmed contamination of the system in 2018.
Earlier this year, the case of ten-year-old Milly Main was referred to prosecutors.
Milly had leukaemia from the age of five, but was in remission before contracting an infection at the QEUH in 2017.
She died in August that year, with her death certificate listing a stenotrophomonas infection of the Hickman line – a catheter used to administer drugs – as a cause of death.
Milly’s mum, Kimberly Darroch, said she was not told about the potential link to contaminated water problems at the hospital.
However, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) maintains there has been no link established between the water in the hospital and Milly’s death.
Ahead of the inquiry, Ms Darroch, from Lanark, said: “Nearly three years since Milly died, we feel the heart-breaking loss of our daughter every day and feel we’re still in the dark about her death.
“Having been let down by the health board, we hope the public inquiry will uncover the truth about what happened at the hospital – not just for us but for all the families affected, and to ensure no other family ever has to go through what we went through.”
NHSGGC said it welcomes the inquiry and is “committed to participating fully in that process”.
The health board added: “We are truly sorry that we have not been able to provide Milly’s family with satisfactory responses to the questions that remain unanswered for them and recognise the additional distress this has resulted in.”
Lord Brodie will also be tasked with investigating what went wrong with Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.
Following a series of delays, it was eventually set to open last summer.
However with only a few days before the first patients were due to arrive, the Scottish Government stepped in to stop it from opening after inspectors found a safety flaw in its ventilation system.
According to the remit of the inquiry, its “overarching aim” is to consider the planning, design, construction, commissioning and, where appropriate, maintenance of both the QEUH and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.
It intends to ascertain how the problems occurred, how they could have been prevented, their impact on patients and their families, and whether the buildings provide a safe environment for “the delivery of safe, effective person-centred care”.
The inquiry will then make recommendations to ensure that any past mistakes are not repeated in future NHS infrastructure projects.