A nurse off work on full pay for six years after being accused of involvement in a patient’s death claims he has demanded NHS bosses report the case to police on 22 occasions.
Stephen McLaughlin, who lectured staff on allergy risks, claims he was made a scapegoat over the 2017 death of a dementia patient who was repeatedly given an antibiotic he was severely allergic to.
Questions remain around the death of Eddie McCluskey, 88, who passed away at Inverclyde Hospital in Greenock after developing an agonising rash and a lung infection that his family believe was caused by the antibiotics he was given.
McLaughlin, who did not administer the drugs, says six months after Mr McCluskey died he was accused of involvement in the patient’s death. The nurse said: “I was accused of wilfully allowing Mr McCluskey to be given antibiotics he was allergic to, something which would be considered a criminal offence.
“I was the one person who had raised concerns with other staff over giving Mr McCluskey the antibiotics prescribed by a junior doctor because I knew he was allergic to them. Despite that, when I was called out of the ward to attend to another emergency, the patient was repeatedly given the antibiotics by other nurses.”
McLaughlin claims he repeatedly demanded bosses ask the police to investigate, but they have not done so.
An internal investigation started after Mr McCluskey died, but McLaughlin says no action was taken against staff who administered the antibiotics.
McLaughlin was suspended for a year. After his suspension, he returned to work for several months but was put on “special leave” as he continued insisting the police were called in. He is now on sickness leave, which he says he was told to take.
A recent occupational health review for NHS Glasgow found that McLaughlin remained “unfit for work due to unresolved work issues”.
Three members of staff are now being investigated by the Nursery and Midwifery Council over issues including a failure to comply with a duty of candour with the family of a patient and for dishonesty by knowingly using falsified documents and/or giving false testimony.
McLaughlin – not one of those being investigated – said: “I’ve not worked in six years but I’m still on full pay while my bosses refuse to do either the legal or moral thing over Mr McCluskey’s death.
“His family deserves the truth. I did not kill their father. I would never have administered a drug to a frail dementia patient if there were any allergy concerns. It’s my job to ensure things like that don’t happen.
“NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has not only destroyed my career, accusing me of something I did not do, Mr McCluskey’s family still don’t know what happened. When you realise this is the same health board currently facing possible corporate homicide charges for the contamination scandal at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital that left adults and children dead, I hope the public judge them and not me for pushing to get truth out.”
Last week NHSGGC was formally named as corporate homicide suspects over the deaths of three children, including Millie Main, 10, and Gail Armstrong, 73.
McLaughlin added: “I’ve done everything I can to force NHS Glasgow to examine the evidence I have.
“I’ve been through disciplinary proceedings and appeals where officials refused to look at evidence. I’ve tried whistleblowing. I even confronted CEO Jane Grant face to face, but nothing appears to move the health board to do the right thing.
“What NHS official accuses a nurse of killing a patient and they don’t contact the police to investigate?
“I’ve been to the police to report what happened, but they said unless my employer filed a report or Mr McCluskey’s family did, there as nothing they could do.”
Despite insisting the case had previously been fully investigated, NHSGGC said: “We have agreed to commission a review of the organisation’s handling of the issues raised by Mr McLaughlin to ensure appropriate processes were followed.”
They say the review is under way and will be completed in a few weeks.
Sarwar calls for health chiefs’ sacking as police probe deaths
First Minister Humza Yousaf was last week urged to sack the leaders of Glasgow’s health board after it was named a suspect in an investigation into the deaths of patients.
Police launched an investigation into the deaths at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and Mr Yousaf confirmed on Thursday that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde is now being considered a suspect in the probe.
Among those affected was 10-year-old Milly Main, who died in 2017 after contracting an infection at the Royal Hospital for Children’s cancer ward on the hospital campus.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who has supported the families of those impacted, urged the First Minister to fire the board’s chair and chief executive.
“Deadly mistakes made, facts denied, a cover-up continuing, and to this day no one, not a single person held to account – instead incompetence is rewarded,” the Glasgow MSP said.
Yousaf said that the Scottish Government had set up an oversight board, a public inquiry and passed the Patient Safety Commissioner Bill.
Board chairman professor John Brown is due to step down soon, but is to remain as an adviser to the Scottish Government on NHS governance.
Sarwar said: “First Minister, what message does this send to grieving families, and what does it say about your judgment?”
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