Claim of child aspergillus death ‘around same time and in same ward’ a…

A CHILD cancer patient who was being treated at Glasgow’s superhospital died after contracting the same bug connected to the death of a senior Scottish Government official, it has been claimed.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called on Nicola Sturgeon to take the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital under direct ministerial control after clinicians revealed a further two deaths connected to hospital-acquired infections.

READ MORE: Widow claims ‘cover up’ of Scottish Government official’s death

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

A second clinician also claims there has been “at the minimum one death” in the past few months in the nearby Royal Hospital for Children where a child was infected by a bacteria connected to water and the ecosystem, and describes a “culture of denial” into hospital infections.

Andrew Slorance

They say “there continue to be situations of infection connected to water and the ecosystem including Stenotrophomonas”, a scarce bacteria which caused the death of 10-year-old leukaemia patient Milly Main in August 2017 after the Hickman line administering her drugs intravenously became infected, leading to toxic shock.

It comes amid an current public inquiry into infections connected to the building and water supply at the QEUH.

Mr Sarwar said the doctors had contacted him directly to raise concerns after the widow of Mr Slorance spoke out alleging a cover up surrounding 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 Main’s death reported to prosecutors 

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

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

Aspergillus is a kind of mould commonly found in the ecosystem, but which can cause fatal respiratory illnesses in patients with severely weakened immune systems.

Mrs Slorance has accused the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde of “hiding the fungal infection” to “protect a building, a health board and political decision-making”.

The health board insists that it has been “open and honest” at all times with the Slorance family about the treatment provided.

Milly Main, who died in 2017

Speaking after today’s FMQs, Mr Sarwar said: “Last week I raised the case of Andrew Slorance who died in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after contracting a fungal infection, aspergillus, connected to water and the ecosystem.

“Since then I have been contacted by senior clinicians who have spoken out about two more deaths.

“Another case of aspergillus in a child cancer patient around the same time, in the same ward as Andrew.

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

“Nicola Sturgeon’s holding answers are no longer good enough, she has been responsible for this scandal from start to finish.

“This is gross negligence.”

Mr Sarwar called on the First Minister to fire the health board’s leadership, sack the oversight board and escalate it to Stage 5 – meaning that the Government would be directly responsible for running the service.

Scottish Labour said it was disclosing the doctors’ statements anonymously due to their “fear of retribution”.

Senior clinician A said: “I think there are serious questions for the Health Board and the Scottish Government. Are they doing enough to keep people safe?

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

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

“It begs the question – if there was a case as far back as the 4th of November what did the health board do to probe it? Did they look for an environmental source and could future infections have been prevented?

“In situations like this, where two patients have died of aspergillus in short order, a HIIAT Red report should have been filed and consequently the Health Secretary informed.

“Why was this then not acted on? We could have lost the chance to prevent later infections and deaths.”

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

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

“Despite the reassurances from the health board and the Scottish Government, there continue to be situations of infection connected to water and the ecosystem including Stenotrophomonas.

“There is a cultural of denial and the absence of proper investigations into these situations.

“The consequence is inaction with potentially fatal consequences.

“Within the last few months there has been at the minimum one death in the paediatric hospital where a child was infected by a bacteria connected to water and the ecosystem.

“We can’t hide behind a public inquiry. We need urgent action now so we can make it safe and provide the necessary reassurances about the risk from ecosystem and water supply.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has been contacted for comment.

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