Glasgow QEUH child aspergillus’ dead ‘linked to Scottish Government’s Andrew Slorance’

A CHILD cancer patient being treated at Glasgow’s superhospital hospital has died after incurring the same mistake in connection with a senior Scottish official, it has been claimed.

Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar has urged Nicola Sturgeon to take Queen Elizabeth University Hospital under direct ministerial scrutiny after clinicians revealed two more deaths linked to hospital-acquired infections.

One of the doctors – whose statements have been released anonymously by Scottish Labor – claims that a childhood cancer patient died of aspergillus infection in November 2020, around the same time and in the same ward as Andrew Slorance, who had headed the Scottish Government’s communications unit .

Another clinician also claims that there has been “at least one death” in the last few months at the adjacent Royal Hospital for Children, where a child became infected with a bacterium associated with water and the environment, and describes a “culture of denial” in hospital infections.

HeraldScotland: Andrew SloranceAndrew Slorance

READ MORE: Widow claims to “hide” the death of Scottish Government official

They say that “there are still cases of infection associated with water and the environment, including Stenotrophomonas”, a rare bacterium that caused the death of 10-year-old leukemia patient Milly Main in August 2017, after the Hickman line that administered her drugs intravenously, became infected, leading to toxic shock.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it was “fully committed to being fully open and transparent” and that infection control in the QEUH is “strict and of the highest standard”.

It comes amid an ongoing public inquiry into infections associated with the building and water supply at QEUH.

Sarwar said doctors had contacted him directly to raise concerns after the widow of Mr Slorance spoke out, claiming she had covered her husband’s death following the discovery from his medical notes that he had been treated for an infection caused by aspergillus .

Louise Slorance said this had never been discussed with herself or her husband.

READ MORE: Milly Mains death reported to prosecutors

Sir. Slorance, a father of five from Edinburgh, was admitted to the flagship hospital in late October 2020 for a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy as part of Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) treatment.

However, the 49-year-old died weeks later after receiving Covid. His cause of death was stated as Covid pneumonia.

Aspergillus is a form of mold that is commonly found in the environment but which can cause fatal respiratory diseases in patients with severely weakened immune systems.

Ms Slorance has accused the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde of “hiding the fungal infection” for “protecting a building, a health council and political decision-making”.

The National Board of Health insists that it has always been “open and honest” with the Slorance family about the treatment provided.

HeraldScotland: Milly Main, who died in 2017Milly Main, who died in 2017

After today’s FMQs, Mr Sarwar said: “Last week I raised the issue of Andrew Slorance, who died at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after contracting a fungal infection, aspergillus, associated with water and the environment.

“Since then, I have been contacted by leading clinicians who have commented on two more deaths.

“Another case of aspergillus in a pediatric cancer patient at about the same time, in the same ward as Andrew.

“And in the last two months, a child in the pediatric hospital got a waterborne infection – like Milly Main – and died.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s reluctant response is no longer good enough, she has been responsible for this scandal from start to finish.

“This is gross negligence.”

Sarwar called on the prime minister to fire the health department’s management, fire the supervisory board and escalate it to phase 5 – meaning the government would be directly responsible for running the service.

Scottish Labor said it disclosed doctors’ statements anonymously because of their “fear of retaliation”.

Senior Clinician A said: “I think there are serious issues for the National Board of Health and the Scottish Government. Are they doing enough to protect people?

“There was another case of aspergillus around the same time as Andrew Slorance and in the same ward.

“A pediatric cancer patient died after contracting the infection in November 2020.

“That raises the question – if there was a case as far back as November 4, what did the National Board of Health do to investigate it? Were they looking for an environmental source, and could future infections have been prevented?

“In cases like this, where two patients have died of aspergillus in a short time, a HIIAT Red report should have been submitted and therefore informed the Minister of Health.

“Then why was nothing done about this? We could have lost the chance to prevent subsequent infections and deaths.”

READ MORE: Parents of children who received prophylactic antibiotics at QEUH ‘falsely told it was for cancer treatment’

Senior Clinic B said: “There is a culture of bullying and intimidation.

“Despite assurances from the National Board of Health and the Scottish Government, there are still cases of infection associated with water and the environment, including Stenotrophomonas.

“There is a culture of denial and absence of proper investigations into these cases.

“The result is passivity with potentially fatal consequences.

“Within the last few months, there has been at least one death at the pediatric hospital where a child became infected with a bacterium associated with water and the environment.

“We can not hide behind a public inquiry. We need swift action now so we can do it safely and provide the necessary assurances about the risks from the environment and water supply.”

Sturgeon – who attended Mr Slorances’ wake last year – said she would investigate the allegations “as an urgent matter”, adding that “no clinician should fear bullying or intimidation by coming forward”.

She said: “When raising concerns, it is important that there is a proper and complete investigation to determine if there are links between infections.

“A significant amount of work is underway in the NHS to reduce the incidence of this and of people becoming seriously ill and dying.

“We have to establish the facts, because it informs about the actions that need to be taken, and that’s crucial.”

In a statement, the NHS GGC said: “It is a painful tragedy for any family to lose their child and we would like to share our deepest sympathy with both families.

“We welcome open discussions with anyone who may have questions about care, and we would like to take this opportunity to appeal to families to speak to us directly when they feel able to do so.

“Infection control procedures at QEUH are strict and of the highest standard.

“The public inquiry at the hospitals is currently underway and we have provided all the support to the inquiry team and will continue to do so. We also provide support to both patients and staff throughout the process.

“We want to assure the public that the clinical care we provide to our patients within QEUH and RHC is of a high standard and we give patient safety the highest possible priority.

“All NHSGGC employees are fully committed to being completely open and transparent in everything we do, and that this is repeatedly called into question does not represent a true reflection of our organization.

“We support all our employees to say no if they have concerns. All NHSGGC employees are protected to do so through our whistleblowing policy. The policy allows individuals to raise their concerns confidentially and to be investigated.

“We would like to thank all our teams for their continued commitment to our patients, their families and their colleagues in this unprecedented time.”

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