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Amid reports of patient safety concerns, Unison, Scotland’s public service union, have asked health board NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to postpone the final stages of transfer of services to the new South Glasgow University Hospital.
The new £842 million South Glasgow University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Sick Children is one of the biggest critical care complexes in Europe, and welcomed its first patients in late April. Funded by the Scottish Government, the hospital boasts 1,100 beds - the vast majority of which have en-suite bathrooms - and numerous high tech facilities, such as a fleet of robots to deliver linen via a network of underground tunnels.
Unfortunately, the hospital began suffering problems before it even opened its doors, with staff claiming issues with car parking.
The transfer of patients from four hospitals around Glasgow on a phased basis began in mid-May. Since the transfer began, however, there have been a number of reports of ambulances queuing to hand patients over, long waiting times for patients in A&E and issues with the building itself, such as water temperature and doors sticking. An official investigation into a patient’s care has already been launched following a patient suicide in the hospital last week.
At 8am on 30 May, the A&E at Western Infirmary closed its doors, with in-patients transferred on 30 and 31 May. The final stage of migration will be the transfer of services from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill in June. It is these transfers which Unison has called to be postponed until the reported issues have been resolved.
Mr George Welch, Chief of Medicine at South Glasgow University Hospital, has said however, that he can offer "complete reassurance that services at the hospital are safe," and that he is fully confident services can continue moving into the hospital.
This story highlights the very wide range of issues Trusts face in maintaining hospitals, from appropriate staffing levels to property management and staff facilities. Patient care is put at risk when any one of these areas fails to operate appropriately.
Whilst South Glasgow University Hospital is supplied with high tech medical equipment and features such as a cinema in the children’s wing that many hospitals will be envious of, unless basic patient safety can be guaranteed, it may be some time before patients experience those benefits.
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