Socialist Worker

Problems were built into the Glasgow hospital named ‘Death Star’

A death at a Glasgow hospital has shone a light on a scandal-hit institution, writes Tomáš Tengely-Evans

Issue No. 2639

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on a visit to Glasgows Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in 2016

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on a visit to Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in 2016 (Pic: First Minister of Scotland/Flickr)


Conditions at a Scottish hospital nicknamed the “Death Star” by locals have been blamed for the death of a ten year old ­cancer patient.

The boy died after ­contracting an infection linked to pigeon droppings at the Queen Elizabeth University “super hospital” in Glasgow last week.

A procurator fiscal—a coroner with legal powers—is deciding whether to launch an inquiry or prosecution.

And now a further patient at the hospital is seriously ill after contracting a fungal infection from mould.

The revelations are a fresh scandal for the Scottish National Party government.

Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman was forced to call a full investigation into the design, building and maintenance of the hospital.

The hospital has been plagued by health and safety problems since opening in 2015.

Cladding had to be stripped from the hospital because it was similar to the type used on Grenfell Tower.

And a source spoke out in the Evening Times newspaper about faulty fire doors.

They said all of the doors at the Queen Elizabeth, Europe’s largest hospital campus, had to be removed because they lacked fire retardant sealant.

This could have allowed smoke to seep around the edges of the doors and into wards during a fire.

Repairing

The source said that ­management only began repairing the doors in January 2018.

The £824 million project was designed by Nightingale Associates and built by Australian multinational Multiplex. It was supposed to be the flagship of the Scottish government’s plan to tackle huge health inequalities in the country.

The plans saw the merger of the Southern General, Victoria Infirmary and Yorkhill Children’s Hospital.

Yet simply amalgamating services into a “super-hospital” doesn’t make delivery more efficient.

And Scottish architect Malcolm Fraser pointed to some potential design flaws of the super-hospital building.

“If you look at buildings in a technical way instead of a holistic, healthy way, then you can overlook things,” he said.

“Part of the problem here is that mechanical ventilation ducts have been a way to pick up pigeon diseases and push them around a building.

“Instead of opening a window to get air in, you move air in through intakes of big fans.

“And they put ducts around the building, pre-heat it and pre-cool it and feed it into individual rooms so you don’t have to open the window.

“It has this knock-on effect of spreading diseases around the building.”

Those responsible must be held to account.


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