Scottish Government
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New powers to close wards to new admissions

Scottish Government publishes Vale of Leven response.

New powers being introduced by the Scottish Government will give Healthcare Improvement Scotland the power to close wards to new admissions if they feel it is necessary to protect patient safety.

Health Secretary Shona Robison outlined the commitment in the Scottish Government’s response to the Vale of Leven inquiry report, published yesterday.

The public inquiry into deaths related to C.Difficile infection at the Vale of Leven between 2007/08 provided an in-depth explanation of what happened at the hospital. Chaired by Lord MacLean, the inquiry published its findings in November 2014.

The Government’s response, which reinforces that it will be taking on board all 75 recommendations, also states that it will go beyond some recommendations in order to make hospitals as safe as possible.

Since the outbreak, improvements have been put in place to ensure lessons are learned. This includes the establishment of Healthcare Environment Inspectorate which provides independent and rigorous scrutiny and assurance of NHS Scotland hospitals to tackle infection rates.

Following on from Lord MacLean’s report last year, further improvements have been put in place, including developing a five-year plan to promote better antibiotic prescribing, which is being carried out by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer as part of the overall UK policy, and engagement between Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer and executive nurse directors to make assure high quality patient care is provided in an open and transparent way.

Ahead of the publication Ms Robison met with some of the patients and families affected by the Vale of Leven C. Difficile outbreak.

Ms Robison said:

“I want to take the opportunity once again to say how sorry I am to all those who were affected and continue to be affected by this tragedy.

“We previously accepted all 75 recommendations from Lord MacLean’s report and will continue to ensure that the Scottish Government works with NHS Scotland, patients and families to implement them fully.

“Although NHS Scotland has made significant improvements since the Vale of Leven hospital outbreak in 2007, particularly around infection prevention and control measures, more can be done to achieve our aim of having a world class health service.

“This is why we are going beyond some of the recommendations by working with NHS health boards and staff to assure the public that our hospitals are safe.

“While Lord MacLean’s report focused on one hospital there are clear messages for everyone up and down the country who are working in and with the healthcare system.

“It is crucial that health boards continue to put systems in place to prevent mistakes happening, and when they do happen, to learn quickly from them.

“I would like to thank and commend the patients and families for their strong campaign to get the inquiry in the first place and for the frank and honest evidence they provided at the inquiry evidence sessions.”

Scottish Government has established an implementation group and a reference group to oversee the work and put plans in place that will provide a clear focus for taking the recommendations forward.

Notes To Editors

The secondary legislation that will give Healthcare Improvement Scotland the power to close wards to new admissions will be introduced later this year. 

The full Scottish Government response is available here:

Lord MacLean’s report on the Vale of Leven inquiry is available here:

A web page dedicated to the Vale of Leven hospital inquiry is also available on the Scottish Government website and will be updated regularly with progress reports and agreed action notes from the Implementation Group and Reference Group meetings: 

Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011

Following the Vale of Leven outbreak guidance was issued to health boards in 2009 and updated in 2014 to ensure that deaths where HAI played a part were accurately certified and the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011 will improve the process even further. The Act aims to improve scrutiny of medical certificates of case of death, the quality and accuracy of certificates and that training, support and guidance is provided to doctors so they complete accurately.

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