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Parents: The delay is too cruel. We shouldn’t have to wait years to discover how our children died

© Andrew CawleyTheresa Smith, whose daughter Sophia died at the QEUH, at home in Greenock
Theresa Smith, whose daughter Sophia died at the QEUH, at home in Greenock

On the eve of a public inquiry into two flagship hospitals, parents who lost children during an infections scandal have said the voice of patients must be heard.

Lord Brodie will launch his inquiry into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, and the still-to-open Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, tomorrow.

But parents have criticised the delay in beginning the inquiry, which may not report for another three years, and say their wait for answers bolsters our Hear Our Voice campaign for the appointment of a Scottish Patients’ Commissioner.

Theresa Smith, whose daughter Sophia lost her life at just 12 days old in April 2017 after developing a strain of the infection MRSA at the Glasgow hospital, said: “It could be six years after Sophia died before this inquiry gives us any answers. No parent should have to wait that length of time to discover why their child died. It’s too cruel.”

The public inquiry will examine the ventilation systems and other design issues at the Glasgow hospital, along with the ventilation and drainage systems at the Edinburgh hospital, which could cost taxpayers more than £500 million over the next 25 years. It was due to open last July but remains closed.

Theresa said parents of children being treated at the QEUH during the infection alert were also upset that “more focus appears to be on the actual bricks and mortar of the building rather than the fact that people, including children like my baby daughter, lost their lives”.

© Andrew Cawley
Theresa Smith with her husband Matthew

She said: “The first review didn’t appear to want to blame anyone. We hope to be able to give evidence and explain this is not about problems with a building but how those problems have taken a terrible toll on patients and their families.

“I wonder whether the whole process is being dragged out so, by the time the inquiry does eventually report, no one will be left in position to answer for what happened.”

The Inverclyde mum is fighting to have a Fatal Accident Inquiry into Sophia’s death.

She said: “I’ll never stop until I get the truth abut what happened to my daughter.
“What happened to all of us is the very reason Scotland needs a Patients’ Commissioner. We are behind The Sunday Post campaign all the way.”

Leading lawyer Patrick McGuire, who represents families involved in the QEUH scandal, said: “These families have already had to endure unimaginable pain and loss, and this inquiry must not only hear their voices but must act upon them.”

Meanwhile, the mother of 10-year-old Milly Main, who died at the QEUH, has said the public inquiry must “uncover the truth” about what happened. Kimberly Darroch believes her daughter Milly’s death was due to contaminated water at the hospital but says the family are still “in the dark”.

Ms Darroch, 36, from Lanark, said: “Nearly three years since Milly died, we feel the heart-breaking loss of our daughter every day and feel we’re still in the dark about her death.

“Having been let down by the health board, we hope the public inquiry will uncover the truth about what happened at the hospital – not just for us but for all the families affected, and to ensure no other family ever has to go through what we went through.”

Lord Brodie is expected to give more detail about how the inquiry will be conducted tomorrow.

It is understood anyone, including families of patients, who believe they have relevant information or experience, will be invited to contact the inquiry team. Decisions will then be made over who will be asked to give evidence in person.