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SCOTLAND’S Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has finally caved in to pressure from Labour and Unison and announced that a public inquiry will investigate safety issues at two Scottish hospitals.
It will examine deaths linked to pigeon droppings at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow and delays to the Royal Hospital for Children & Young People (RHCYP) in Edinburgh.
A child and another patient died at the QEUH in Glasgow, which opened in 2015, after picking up an infection related to pigeon excrement and there have been several patients affected since then.
The new £150 million 200-bed Edinburgh hospital is standing empty. It should have opened in July but problems were discovered with its ventilation and drainage systems.
The hospital’s lower floor has been flooded twice and the opening has been postponed indefinitely.
In the meantime taxpayers are paying £1.4m a month in service charges to the consortium that built the hospital.
Privateer Integrated Health Solutions Lothian will receive £432m over 25 years for the hospital’s construction and maintenance.
Thomas Waterson, chair of public service union Unison’s health committee in Scotland, said: “The Scottish government has finally bowed to pressure from Unison, patients and community groups to hold a public inquiry into these lengthy and costly delays, a decision that is long overdue.
“The failings have not only taken millions of pounds out of the public purse — money which should have been spent on patient care — but it has seriously disrupted patient care and been hugely frustrating for NHS workers.
“The whole fiasco yet again highlights the weakness of the Scottish government’s private finance system.
“Patients, staff and taxpayers should not be left paying the price for this catalogue of errors and it is vital this inquiry ensures this is never allowed to happen again.”
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP said: “A public inquiry is the only way to get to the bottom of this outrageous series of errors which has seriously disrupted patient care and cost taxpayers millions of pounds.
“It should not have taken weeks of pressure from Scottish Labour, patients and families for this to have been agreed to by the Health Secretary.
“The public needs to know the truth of what went so badly wrong.”
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