- in Environment
A teenage cancer patient hopes a public inquiry will reveal the truth behind a series of infection outbreaks at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.
Molly Cuddihy, who has bone cancer, contracted a rare infection when she was undergoing treatment in 2018.
Two wards were forced to close after a series of infections and the 18-year-old said the fact they remain shut two years later has had a profound effect on patients.
Molly told BBC Reporting Scotland: “That building itself is sick.”
Next week a public inquiry will look at issues relating to contaminated water and ventilation systems at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow, which includes the Royal Hospital for Children.
It will also look at the new Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh, which had its opening halted at the last minute because similar problems were discovered.
The inquiry was ordered after patients’ families raised safety concerns.
Molly said the movement of children and young people to a temporary adult ward has had a profound impact on their care.
She said: “In 2A we had a home, we had the kitchen where the kids could go and play and they were all friends and the teenagers could go and be ‘mopey teenagers’ and get something to eat.
“It’s great and you have a family and you need that support system, you need that hug because it is so difficult to deal with all the side-effects of the cancer.
“But then we are thrown out of our wee bubble, because it’s not safe obviously, and we are sent to an adult ward.”
NHS Greater and Glasgow and Clyde said it was “sorry for the distress experienced” by families as a result of the concerns over treatment.
Molly said staff have done their best to try and make it as comfortable as possible for the children.
But she added: “It is not the right environment, not the hug you need and it is making it difficult to deal with mentally.
“You are left with your own thoughts a lot more when you are stuck in your own room and that’s difficult.”
Molly is one of a number of patients who contracted unusual infections in the Royal Children’s Hospital and her cancer treatment had to be postponed so she could fight the infection.
She said: “I think to come to terms with the fact you have cancer, especially at this age, it’s horrific. It’s not a nice headspace to be in.
“But you are supposed to go somewhere that makes you better and that’s your safe place, but that building itself is sick.
“That’s not the right environment for us to be in.”
The teenager also said it was unfair on the clinicians, who provide a “world-class service” and praised the dedicated nursing staff.
But she added: “They do deserve a phenomenal building to be giving us our treatment in, but they don’t have that. It is not safe.”
Molly’s case is one of 85 of the infection incidents being investigated.
The bacteria is still affecting her heart and lungs and is difficult to treat
Molly’s father John said: “The cancer has robbed her of her childhood, but when she also then contracts a bacteria – a very, very rare rare bacteria and you see it take hold, there is nothing you can do and it breaks your heart watching it.”
Looking ahead to the inquiry, he added: “There is a guilt, a guilt that is prevalent in every parent: ‘Have we done enough to protect our children?’
“Hopefully it will give us information that allows us to reconcile a bit better in our head what it is that exactly happened and, hopefully hold to account those – if there are those responsible – for neglecting the care, safety and wellbeing of our children.”
NHS Greater and Glasgow and Clyde said it was working to “deliver improvements in communication with families of children and young people cared for in Ward 6A and 4B”.
The health board added: “We remain fully committed to operating in a safe hospital environment and delivering the highest quality of care, while continuing to work closely with families to provide support and answer any questions they may have in an open and transparent manner.”