An expert panel has been appointed by the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry to gather evidence and carry out further investigations at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.
The independent specialists will focus on matters related to healthcare acquired infections. (HAI).
Over the past year the inquiry has heard evidence from patients and families detailing the impact and the toll taken by issues during treatment at the QEUH.
And chairman of inquiry, Lord Brodie Lord Brodie has now appointed an expert panel to help pursue the investigations further.
The inquiry will determine how issues relating to adequacy of ventilation, water contamination, and other matters impacted on patient safety and care, and whether these issues could have been prevented.
With every stage of the inquiry’s investigations, I am mindful of the life-changing impact patients and families have experienced as a result at the issues found at the QEUH
It will also examine the impacts of these issues on patients and their families and whether the buildings provide a suitable environment for the delivery of safe, effective care.
Lord Brodie said: “With every stage of the inquiry’s investigations, I am mindful of the life-changing impact patients and families have experienced as a result at the issues found at the QEUH.
“Their testimony led to multiple lines of investigation, which we continue to pursue.
“Therefore, I have instructed a panel of experts, who will give an independent and unbiased assessment of the evidence gathered to assist with our investigations.”
Dr Sara Mumford will convene the panel.
She is currently the sirector of infection prevention and a consultant microbiologist at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, and an expert in infection prevention, infectious diseases, patient safety, and medical management.
The other two members of the panel are Linda Dempster, an infection prevention practitioner for over 20 years, who has previously been involved in the QEUH Independent Review in 2019; and Dr Jimmy Walker, a microbiologist with over 30 years experience in water microbiology and decontamination.
The chairman may also appoint additional members to the panel at any time.
The independent inquiry was established to investigate the construction of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus (QEUH) in Glasgow and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences (RHCYP/DCN).
The world-class RHCYP and the DCN, located on the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, campus should have opened in July 2019, but the project suffered months of delays after final inspections revealed safety concerns over the ventilation system.
Following the fiasco, which saw the Government postpone the hospital’s launch just a day before the planned opening, NHS Lothian commissioned a report from auditor, Grant Thornton, which discovered a ‘human error’ in a spreadsheet created in 2012 outlining the airflow specifications for critical care rooms at the development.
Subsequent repair work on the site cost over £20m and the opening of the hospital was delayed for over a year.
The inquiry is also exploring problems at the flagship £850m Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, which opened in 2015.
I have instructed a panel of experts, who will give an independent and unbiased assessment of the evidence gathered to assist with our investigations
Since opening, the hospital has been hit by a series of scandals, including outbreaks of deadly infections linked to water quality and ventilation systems.
And, earlier this year, it was revealed that health chiefs are set to rip down walls at the hospital over fears of a lack of fire-retardant sheeting on cavity insulation which could pose a fire hazard.
The probe will make recommendations to ensure any past mistakes are not repeated in future NHS infrastructure projects.
Lord Brodie’s announcement comes after the inquiry announced a series of public hearings scheduled for next year.
Starting in the April, evidence will be taken relating to the RHCYP and DCN Edinburgh, followed by a hearing in the June relating to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus (QEUH), Glasgow.
The April 2023 hearings will focus on:
- Development of the reference design, which looks into the approach taken in developing the hospital building specification
- The procurement process
- Conclusion of the contract
At a future date the inquiry will also examine why RHCYP was not opened in 2019, and then the reasoning behind it opening in 2021.
Further detail on both sets of hearings will be released in due course, with a procedural hearing on Edinburgh likely to take place early next year.