Nicola Sturgeon must act over Queen Elizabeth University Hospital after deaths of Edinburgh man Andrew Slorance and ten-year-old Milly Main – Susan Dalgety

When the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999, everyone, even those like the then-Tory leader David McLetchie who had originally opposed it, wanted it to be a success.

Monday, 6th December 2021, 4:55 am
Louise Slorance, left, wife of the late Andrew Slorance, and Kimberly Darroch, mother of ten-year-old MIlly Main, who died after contracting an infection at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
Louise Slorance, left, wife of the late Andrew Slorance, and Kimberly Darroch, mother of ten-year-old MIlly Main, who died after contracting an infection at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

Speaking at its official opening, he reminded fellow MSPs, of all parties, that Scots had invested an enormous amount of trust and faith in the new parliament, adding “it is incumbent on each and every member of this parliament to be worthy of that trust”.

A parliament is far more than just a collection of civic buildings, where ‘democracy’ happens. It’s where the people’s elected representatives should gather to make good laws and to hold the government of the day to account.

The primary purpose of any parliament, whether it is in Edinburgh or London, must be to ensure that public services and institutions are the best that they can be and to plan for a better future for all. Anything else is just political pantomime.

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Andrew Slorance understood that. As a young man, he was a member of the parliament’s first press team. I worked with him for six years in the Scottish government’s communications team, marvelling at his energy and his attention to detail, laughing at his bad jokes.

When he died a year ago, aged only 50, he was the head of the government’s response and communications unit. Despite being in remission from cancer, he was at the heart of Scotland’s battle against Covid, shielding in the south Edinburgh home he shared with his wife Louise and their children, keeping all our spirits up on Facebook while he battled with his personal health worries and those of the country.

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Covid killed him, or so Louise was told after his death on December 5, 2020, in Scotland’s new ‘super-hospital’, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where he had gone for specialist treatment.

But months later, when Louise was finally given his medical notes, she discovered that he had also been suffering from an infection caused by aspergillus, a type of mould.

Four years ago, ten-year-old Milly Main, who was also in remission from cancer, died in the same hospital. She had contracted a bacterial infection from contaminated water. There is a question mark over several other deaths.

Last Wednesday, Louise and Kimberly Darroch, Milly’s mum, demanded that the Greater Glasgow Health Board be sacked. And in a parliamentary debate, Labour’s health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, held back tears as she echoed their call.

She said: “While we can't bring back those taken too soon, we can help deliver some justice to their families. Tell the Health Board leadership this parliament has no confidence in them and enough is enough.”

Nicola Sturgeon commissioned the hospital when she was Health Secretary. When it opened in April 2015, she was First Minister, and boasted that it proved her party’s commitment to our National Health Service. But she was the only party leader not present in the parliament last week when the hospital’s failures were debated.

The job of our 129 MSPs, from the First Minister to the newest recruits, is to make life better for the people of Scotland. Nothing more and nothing less.

There is clearly something wrong in our country’s flagship hospital. How many more people need to die before Nicola Sturgeon acts? Fix it, First Minister, that’s your job.

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