Nicola Sturgeon has been told she “must” put a flagship hospital under direct ministerial control and sack senior figures at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar repeated demands for the First Minister to step in, amid concerns about the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
It comes amid ongoing controversy about infections at the hospital, with Sarwar claiming these had been linked to more deaths.
He told Sturgeon that a case of aspergillus had been discovered in a child cancer patient who was being treated in the same ward at the same time as Andrew Slorance – a senior Scottish Government official who died last year after contracting both coronavirus and the aspergillus infection while being treated for cancer in the QEUH.
Sarwar also said that more recently a child in the paediatric hospital acquired a waterborne infection like the one linked to the death of schoolgirl Milly Main and had also died.
After raising concerns with Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, the Labour leader repeated his calls for action in a letter to her, calling for both the chairman and the chief executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to be removed from their posts.
Sarwar told her: “You must sack the chairman and chief executive at NHSGCC, sack the oversight board and put the hospital under direct ministerial control.
“More families should not have to pay the price for your government failing to do the right thing.”
In his letter to Sturgeon, the Scottish Labour leader recalled that previous health secretary Shona Robison had placed NHS Tayside into “special measures”, with the health board chief executive and chair both replaced, amid concerns over improper use of funds.
Sarwar told the First Minister: “My concern is that while your government has seen fit to use these powers over financial mismanagement, you are unwilling to act when they could save lives.”
He insisted: “People are still dying from preventable hospital-acquired infections.
“A culture of bullying and intimidation at the board continues to leave staff fearful of speaking out.
“The leadership at the health board, and the oversight board put in place by your government, have failed.”
Sturgeon has already told the Scottish Labour leader that “sacking a health board does not change overnight the practice in a hospital”.
She stated: “When concerns are raised about the cause of someone’s death, then that has to be properly investigated so that the action that is then taken as a result of that is the right action.”
While she accepted “these are serious matters”, the First Minister stressed: “We do not do justice to the families concerned if we simply call for action that is not based on proper investigation, proper scrutiny and proper consideration.”
A spokesperson for NHSGGC said: “In the past 24 hours, the QEUH/RHC and specifically the treatment provided to our patients has continued to be called into question.
“Hearing such speculation and allegations has been extremely difficult for our staff and patients alike.”
The spokesperson said the continued claims to be made that NHSGGC is failing to be transparent across all areas of patient care and building safety is “of serious concern”.
“We are deeply saddened by the way in which the commitment and working practices of our staff at the QEUH and RHC are being portrayed,” they added.
“However, it is important that we are not complacent and, when issues or concerns are raised, we will continue to address them in a constructive and robust manner.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The First Minister has received Mr Sarwar’s letter and will respond in due course.
“As NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have made it clear, infection control procedures at the QEUH are rigorous and of the highest standard.
“The Scottish Government has engaged with the health board to ensure that the concerns raised are properly investigated and resolved.”