Glasgow & West Scotland

Prosecutors investigate death of boy from pigeon infection

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
Image caption The £842m Queen Elizabeth University Hospital opened in 2015

Prosecutors are investigating the death of a 10-year-old boy at a Glasgow hospital after he contracted an infection linked to pigeon droppings.

The child was one of two patients who died at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital but the second death was not connected to the infection.

If the procurator fiscal does decide to take action a Fatal Accident Inquiry or prosecution are among the options.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has ordered a review into the hospital.

It will examine the design, build, handover and maintenance at the £842m facility, which opened in 2015.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The procurator fiscal received a report in connection with the death of a 10-year-old boy at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in December 2018.

"The investigation into the death, under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing and the family will be kept updated in relation to any significant developments."

BBC Scotland understands the death was initially reported to the Crown Office by staff at the QEUH.

The fungal infection which contributed to the child's death is believed to have come from pigeon droppings found in a plant room on the hospital's roof.

Investigations continue to establish how it entered a closed ventilation system.

'Virulent nasties'

Earlier on Friday, an architect criticised the design of the hospital and said mechanical ventilation ducts can be gateways for disease.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, Malcolm Fraser said the 12-storey "monster hospital" is not a "happy building" and bigger places tend to "cut corners".

He said: "In this case it appears to be an issue with the mechanical ventilation and a gap that's been left that pigeons can get in.

"Mechanical ventilation ducts are perfect places for cooking up virulent nasties, basically."

In response to his criticism, a spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "The cabinet secretary has already announced a review into the design, commissioning, construction and maintenance of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital."

Image caption Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said an independent chair will be appointed soon to lead the review

Details of the review were revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question tabled by Bill Kidd, SNP MSP for Glasgow Anniesland.

Mr Kidd asked for information about the review and sought assurances it will be "robust, independent and transparent".

In response, Ms Freeman said: "The independent review will look at the building's design, commissioning and construction, handover and ongoing maintenance, how these matters contribute to effective infection control and any other areas considered necessary by those carrying out the review."

The minister confirmed an independent chairperson will be appointed soon and said they will have both expertise in construction design and knowledge of the health care system.

It will consult individuals involved in the design, construction and maintenance of the hospital as well as patients and families.

The review's recommendations will be made public and the Scottish government will inform parliament of its response to the review recommendations.

Ms Freeman concluded: "We must all understand what the issues are, why they have arisen and the recommendations will be taken forward and learning applied across NHS Scotland to ensure our healthcare facilities - existing and future - are fit for purpose and support the delivery of world class health care."

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman Monica Lennon welcomed the review.

She said: "This review must be fully transparent and robust but we also need to see urgent steps taken to restore confidence in the safety and reputation of Scotland's flagship hospital."

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