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20 November 2019
Jeane Freeman to deliver statement to parliament on QEUH

Image credit: Scottish Parliament TV

Jeane Freeman to deliver statement to parliament on QEUH

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will deliver a 10-minute statement to Scottish Parliament this afternoon on "Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) ward closure", after facing committee questions on Tuesday.

Last week Labour MSP for Glasgow Anas Sarwar told First Minister’s Questions that a whistleblower had told him there were 26 infections at the QEUH children’s cancer ward in 2017, which may have been connected to the water supply, and “in one case a child died as a result”.

In the days since, Freeman has divulged that she found out about a death at the hospital in September this year, and the Crown Office has confirmed it is investigating the 2017 death of a three-year-old boy at QEUH.

Freeman faced Holyrood Health and Sport Committee yesterday and was grilled by MSPs on the status of a public inquiry into QEUH and Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital.

She told the committee that the inquiry’s chair would be appointed to the inquiry before Christmas.

“With the support of the Lord Advocate and Lord President, I hope to be able to announce who will lead the inquiry before we get to the Christmas recess," Freeman said.

“The chair of the inquiry has a significant role in finalising the remit of the inquiry, and so we will undertake that finalising work with him or her and will then be able to announce the final remit of the inquiry and its start-up date."

Freeman told the committee that the findings of an independent review examining water contamination and other issues at QEUH would be published in Spring. She said she would recommend that the public inquiry look at water infections, just as the independent review was.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton asked Freeman would she "now reconsider her response to the committee's request for a review of all high-risk clinical areas".

"If we set the standard to what air ventilation should be in critical care, then should we not be reviewing all settings for that critical care?" he asked.

Freeman said her department had asked Health Facilities Scotland to "review the most recent builds, to ensure that they were compliant in the manner in which we'd expect".

But said: "If you think about the entirety of our NHS estate, then to undertake that complete inspection that you are suggesting is a significant piece of work.

"There will be a piece of work that looks to, where are the additional critical areas that we would wan to ensure are meeting the standards, and working our way through in order of priority."

Freeman has 10-minutes set aside at 2pm in parliament today, to deliver a “ministerial statement on Queen Elizabeth University Hospital ward closure”, followed by 20 minutes of questions.

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