A Cambuslang mother is suing a scandal-hit hospital she claims covered up ward contamination by accusing her of trying to murder her disabled daughter.
Kirsteen Cooper was arrested and thrown in a police cell in 2017 after senior managers at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) in Glasgow wrongly said she tried to harm cerebral palsy sufferer Baillie.
The mum of three was made aware of the allegation just days after complaining of hygiene failings on the ward where her four-year-old daughter was being treated.
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But now that the hospital is at the center of a major public inquiry into child deaths and contamination, Kirsteen believes her case was an attempt at a “blatant cover-up”.
Kirsteen is taking legal action against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde after the health board failed to apologize even when allegations against her were found to be completely false.
She said: “I can barely describe the hell I went through between that moment and being completely vindicated at a court hearing.
“I was accused of trying to murder my own sick daughter. It was beyond comprehension, it left me feeling suicidal.
“I firmly believe now – when you consider all we have heard at the public inquiry – that I was the victim of a blatant cover-up.”
The RHC, which is part of the £842million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus, is being probed over safety fears, patient deaths from infections and water contamination claims.
Baillie, who uses a wheelchair and has suffered from serious illness since birth, was admitted to RHC in December 2016.
Kirsteen claims the child protection investigation against her came to light on January 26, 2017, after she made a formal complaint to the hospital alleging serious issues with hygiene, including Baillie’s room being left uncleaned.
But she was told at the time she could not get a response to the hygiene complaint because of the child protection counterclaims.
She said: “I made a complaint in January 2017 because I really didn’t think that standards of hygiene were good enough.
“Baillie had caught several infections in the time she was being treated at the hospital and at one point her room hadn’t been cleaned for a week.
“But days later they came back saying nothing could be investigated because I had been reported to child protection services.
“Investigating my complaint properly could have resulted in too many things coming to light, so these horrific allegations were made against me.
“Time and again families have been treated with contemplation. At every turn, senior management would rather find ways to put them down rather than listen to legitimate concerns.
“I honestly believe nothing will change at that hospital until there are resignations at the very top.”
On February 2, 2017, Baillie’s feeding tube leaked and Kirsteen was accused by staff of tampering with it and removed from hospital by police and social work.
She was forced to spend a night in a jail cell in July 2017 and was charged with attempted murder.
Kirsteen, from Cambuslang, near Glasgow, was left feeling suicidal and was forced to spend long periods separated from Baillie as a result of restrictions placed on visiting.
She was accused of stealing blood from Baillie to make her anaemic.
But the criminal case was never pursued after Police Scotland commissioned a blood expert – consultant pediatric haematologist Russell Keenan of Alderhey Hospital in Liverpool – who concluded Baillie’s anemia was caused by her illness.
Charges against Kirsteen were dropped and she was completely vindicated at a Children’s Hearing.
In September, the QEUH public inquiry heard evidence from the dad of a boy being treated for cancer who had been given antifungal drugs.
David Campbell said he believed his child was given a “secret” supply of disease-prevention drugs because the hospital knew there were hygiene concerns.
Kirsteen, 45, said Baillie was also being treated with anti-fungals.
She added: “I believe Baillie contracted infections at the hospital and she was being given antifungal drugs. The whole thing stinks and people still aren’t being given the answers they deserve.
“Baillie is nine now and is doing great. She is being treated in Edinburgh and I don’t want anything to do with the QEUH.”
Two years ago, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) launched an investigation into the head of Child Protection Services at the time.
The NMC declined to comment on the probe or whether it had been concluded.
Kirsteen’s legal team have said child protection services helped to put together a damning and inaccurate haematology report, which led to Kirsteen’s arrest.
The complaint claims the report was used to back up claims Kirsteen had Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII), formerly known as Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, the controversial theory that some mums harm their children to draw attention to themselves.
Scottish Labor health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “This is a shocking case that speaks volumes about the culture of cover-up and deceit at the heart of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s senior management.
“For Ms Cooper to be accused of such an act by the health board is a scandal.
“For years now, staff and families have been failed and lives have been lost.
“Those in charge must be held accountable for their actions and resignations must follow.”
Kirsteen’s lawyer, Michael Gallen of Fleming and Reid Solicitors, said: “Kirsteen faced the cruelest of allegations with the prospect of a criminal prosecution looming over her for years.
“She and her family endeavored to obtain an explanation and apology.
“As none was forthcoming, they were left with no alternative other than to litigate. Her hope de ella is no other family is subjected to a similar experience. ”
An independent review in 2020 found 84 children were infected with rare bacteria while at QEUH.
Despite this, we revealed how a submission to the public inquiry by NHSGGC dismissed evidence from families as “unchallenged and untested”.
In response to parents who told their heartbreaking stories, health board managers said the inquiry hadn’t heard from “witnesses appropriately qualified to express an opinion”.
They also said families were using suspicion and web research to mount unfair criticism.
Kimberly Darroch, whose daughter Milly Main, 10, died at the QEUH in August 2017 after catching a waterborne infection and going into toxic shock, has accused health board senior managers of “denying reality”.
NHSGGC said: “We take the wellbeing of people in our care very seriously and the priority for staff is to ensure patients and their families receive the treatment and support they need.
“We strictly monitor the cleanliness within all of our hospitals and maintain high standards.
“With regard to this case, we do not recognize the account that has been shared with the Sunday Mail.”
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