Glasgow NHS bosses refer Milly Main infection death to prosecutors

  • Published
Milly and motherImage source, Kimberly Darroch
Image caption,
Milly Main died after contracting an infection at the Royal Hospital for Children

The death of a child who contracted an infection at Glasgow's super-hospital has been referred to prosecutors.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) confirmed it had passed details of its investigation into the death of Milly Main to the procurator fiscal.

The 10-year-old died in August 2017 after treatment for leukaemia at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC).

NHSGGC said it was "appropriate" to refer the case due to concerns from her family and public interest in her case.

However, Labour MSP Anas Sarwar has described it as "a cynical attempt" by the health board to look like it is being proactive.

Milly Main had a successful stem cell transplant in July 2017 while she was in remission from leukaemia.

She was making a good recovery when the following month her Hickman line, a catheter used to administer drugs, became infected.

Image caption,
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia was listed on Milly's death certificate

Milly went into toxic shock and died days later.

Her death certificate lists a Stenotrophomonas infection of the Hickman line among the possible causes of death.

Milly's mother, Kimberly Darroch, has said the family were kept in the dark about a potential link to contaminated water problems at the hospital.

NHSGCC maintains that there has been no link established between the water in the hospital and the patient's death.

Mr Sarwar has been supporting the Lanark family since late last year when a whistleblower came forward to reveal the scale of infections linked to the water supply, and it emerged that Milly was one of the patients involved.

Ms Darroch and Milly's father Neil Main recently instructed solicitors to send a letter to the Lord Advocate following the revelations about infections linked to the water supply at the hospitals.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Anas Sarwar with Milly Main's mother Kimberly Darroch who have called for a fatal accident inquiry

According to Mr Sarwar, that letter, which called for a fatal accident inquiry, also acted as a referral of the death to the procurator fiscal, as it was not reported by the health board at the time.

NHSGGC has now separately written to Milly's parents, stating that it has since referred the death, citing the public interest.

A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service confirmed that it had received a final report from NHSGGC within the last week.

Mr Sarwar said: "Milly's death should have been reported to the procurator fiscal at the time.

"The way her family has been treated is disgraceful. They were kept in the dark for years and shown no respect by the health board when a brave whistleblower shone a light on the QEUH infection scandal.

"At all times, the health board's priority has been about saving its own skin, not doing what was right by Milly's parents."

Image caption,
The Royal Hospital for Children is next door to the QEUH

He added: "The health board has now decided to refer the case to the procurator fiscal in the knowledge that Milly's parents did so weeks ago. It is a cynical attempt to look like it is being proactive when it has been deliberately evasive up until now."

Mr Sarwar said he believed the Lord Advocate would listen to Milly's parents' demand for a fatal accident inquiry.

He said: "This is a painful experience for Milly's family. It is forcing them to relive her death all over again, nearly three years after her tragic death. 

"I will not stop until there is justice for Milly's parents, and they receive the answers they deserve."

Patient review

A spokeswoman for NHSGCC told the BBC that the board was in contact with the procurator fiscal from as early as 19 November last year to discuss the case, following media reporting. 

She said: "The death of any child is a tragedy and we continue to offer our sympathies to Milly's family for their loss.

"Following recent concerns from Milly's family, the public interest in her death, and discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, we sought advice from the Procurator Fiscal. Following this advice it was deemed appropriate to refer Milly's case to the Procurator Fiscal which we have now done."

The spokeswoman said that Milly's case was also being considered as part of the review of patient episodes that Professor Marion Bain, director of infection prevention and control, would be overseeing, with the involvement of Milly's family "in whatever way they wish".