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Health secretary to meet NHS bosses over hospital pigeon infection

Scotland’s health secretary will meet senior NHS officials to discuss the deaths of two patients who had an infection linked to pigeon droppings.

Jeane Freeman will speak to the chief executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and senior clinical staff to seek reassurance for patients at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

A non-public room containing machinery has been identified as a likely source.

Infection control measures are in place as an investigation continues.

At the weekend it emerged that two patients who had died at the hospital had contracted a cryptococcus fungal infection, which is linked to pigeon droppings.

The health board said one of the patients was elderly and had died from an unrelated cause. The factors contributing to the death of the other patient are being investigated.

The hospital is safe for patients and visitors, and the health board has apologised for the disruption caused by measures taken to control the infection.

Ms Freeman told the BBC: “Our primary concern, and that of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGCC), remains the safety and wellbeing of the patients and their families at the hospital.

“I am meeting with the health board’s chief executive and senior clinicians to discuss this incident and the necessary next steps and will be joined by the chief nursing officer and the national clinical director.

“I also hope to speak with patients and family members who have concerns if they wish.”

Ms Freeman said NHSGGC had kept patients and their families updated on an ongoing basis and would ensure patients and their families had the opportunity to discuss concerns with the senior clinical team.

Portable HEPA air filter units have been installed in specific areas as an additional precaution. There have been no further cases reported.

On Sunday, former health secretary Alex Neil called for an inquiry into the deaths as it emerged concerns about pigeon numbers at the hospital were raised in December.

Mr Neil told BBC Scotland: “I think there has to be an outside inquiry by experts to find why this happened in the first place, secondly how it has been handled by the health board and, thirdly, what precautions need to be taken for the future.”

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BBC News – Health

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