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Inquiry ordered into design of IBI’s tragedy-hit Scottish hospital

  • 3 Comments

An urgent inquiry has been ordered into the design of an IBI-designed flagship hospital in Scotland after it emerged an infection, linked to pigeon droppings, was a ‘contributory factor’ in a child’s death

The Scottish government’s health secretary Jeane Freeman said the probe would investigate whether Glasgow’s £842 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) building was ‘fit for purpose’, less than four years after it opened.

The hospital was originally designed by healthcare giant Nightingale Associates before the firm was bought out by Canadian-owned IBI Group in 2010.

Since opening in 2015, it has been hit by a catalogue of issues with its water supplies, heating system and windows. In August, the BBC reported that safety netting had been installed around the building after glass panels fell off on separate occasions.

In a statement at Holyrood yesterday, Freeman said the child had died in December and the cryptococcus bacteria, found in soil and bird faeces, was a contributory factor. A second elderly patient had died from an unrelated cause.

She said: ‘In investigating the source of the bacteria, the estates staff traced it to one plant room on the 12th floor, on the rooftop of the building. Invisible to the naked eye was a small break in the wall where pigeons had entered and excrement was found.

‘What they continue to work on is how the bacteria from the excrement could enter a closed ventilation system.’

Freeman announced that inspectors would carry out a ‘full review’ of the building after a number of instances where the ‘fabric of the hospital was less than satisfactory’.

She said: ‘External expert advisers will look at the design of the building, the commissioning of the work, the construction of the building, the handover of the building and the maintenance of the building, in order to ensure we identify where issues were raised that should have been addressed and where maintenance programs should be more robust.’

Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said there had been a ‘laundry list’ of problems with the building and there had been a ’complete lack of clarity’ from the health board about the pigeon droppings infection.

‘The people of Scotland will feel it is absolutely extraordinary that in a modern hospital, Scotland’s flagship, pigeons and infections can kill patients,’ she said.

Freeman added: ‘It is right that we consider whether, in its totality, the fabric of the hospital is as fit for purpose as we require it and, if there are lessons to be learned from that, that we take those and apply those across the rest of our health system, in particular, where we have the commissioning of new builds.’

The remit of the review will be published by the end of the week.

A statement from the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: We were pleased to welcome the cabinet secretary for health and sport today to the hospital to speak to staff, management and patients and families. We have reassured Ms Freeman that patient safety is our top priority.

’We are pleased that an external expert advisor is to work with us on a review of the fabric of the hospital to look at issues relating to the design, commissioning, and maintenance programme.’

It added that staff at the QEUH provide ’excellent care to many thousands of patients admitted every year’ and that the hospital has ‘very good clinical outcomes’.

The IBI Group has been approached for comment.

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • Industry Professional

    Please can the statement "Invisible to the naked eye was a small break in the wall where pigeons had entered and excrement was found" be clarified? I presume the gap was invisible to the naked eye from ground level. Otherwise, the whole thing does not make sense.

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  • While they're at it they should include review of the design of the road layout immediately in front of the hospital, where buses entering the array of stances have to turn right out of a left hand lane and then have to exit right through a junction so tight that they risk clipping the traffic island and colliding with an idiotically sited lamp post.
    'Minor' details indicative of major design incompetence - a symptom of institutional ineptitude?

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  • How can pigeon droppings get into an air handling unit? Easy... Sucked in through open access panel to the AHU's innards (filters, heat/cool coils); these are nearly all under (very) negative pressure relative to the plantroom (ie between the outside inlet and the fan). Sometimes, if the AHU's air heating doesn't work well, in winter the access panels are deliberately left open - to suck in warm air from the plant room! The droppings can get stuck onthe ir filters or humdifiers... promoting grwoth in warm & humid conditions. Next thing you know... Not nice.

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