Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (Infection Management)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Adam Tomkins Adam Tomkins Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on infection management at Queen Elizabeth university hospital. (S5O-03732)

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

The basis of infection management is Health Protection Scotland’s mandatory “National Infection Prevention and Control Manual”. The infection prevention and control team at Queen Elizabeth university hospital has responsibility for undertaking active surveillance of specific alert organisms and conditions based on risk. In most instances, two linked cases trigger an investigation; however, where the infection is exceptional, one case provides the trigger. The manual contains step-by-step information on escalation and de-escalation of risk based on epidemiological data and clinical assessment. The infection prevention and control team at the Queen Elizabeth works to that manual.

If necessary, a multidisciplinary incident management team is convened to support incident investigation, generate hypotheses and agree control measures. All those steps are in place at Queen Elizabeth university hospital.

In addition to surveillance, at the Queen Elizabeth as elsewhere, proactive admission screening is mandatory in NHS Scotland for some organisms, including MRSA. Admission screening by clinical risk assessment allows for early identification of patients who are colonised or at high risk of being colonised, which allows healthcare staff to pre-emptively manage any risk and put in place appropriate measures.

Photo of Adam Tomkins Adam Tomkins Conservative

I thank the cabinet secretary for her very full answer. She will be aware that children who require cancer treatment in Glasgow have been sent as far away as NHS Grampian. I have already written to her about one particular case. It has been reported that this is, once again, due to infection problems at the QEUH.

I understand the need for patient safety, but surely children with cancer deserve better than to be sent to the other end of the country for their treatment?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

What children who are suffering from cancer and their families deserve is the safest possible treatment in whatever facilities we can provide that in. As Mr Tomkins knows, the unit at the Royal hospital for children in the Queen Elizabeth campus remains open for on-going treatment, but is currently closed to new admissions. It is the new admissions who are currently travelling elsewhere. Recognising the burden that that places on families simply in financial terms—I will come to the other burdens in a moment—we have made available the emergency family support fund.

A few weeks ago, I met many of the families involved—both those of in-patients and those who may have to come back to the Queen Elizabeth university hospital. I listened to all their concerns and arranged for every single one of those to be answered in full. The chair and chief executive of the health board have met some of those families and have other meetings planned. I visited the unit a few days ago in order to speak to staff.

This is where we are now on the matter: I—with the collective support of the board and the clinicians—asked an incident management team, with the help of Health Protection Scotland, to oversee the work that has been done to identify the source of the infections and the prevention measures and steps that have been put in place, with a view to reaching a collective decision, involving the clinicians that work in that area of the hospital as well as the infection prevention doctors and others, on whether the ward is safe to be opened to new admissions. I expect that IMT to reach a decision shortly. It held a meeting this week and I look forward to receiving its update on that.