Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar has announced plans for bereaved families to have more rights and power in the wake of Milly Main’s death in the Glasgow hospital infection scandal.
Mr Sarwar will push for changes in the law to give families better access to legal advice and representation and create an independent public advocate role to act on their behalf.
He will also call for the duty of candour – where some public bodies must tell those affected if an unintended or unexpected incident appears to have caused harm or death – to be extended to other organizations such as the police.
Currently, organizations are required to apologize and to “meaningfully involve” affected people or their families in a review of what happened, but Mr Sarwar wants a “strengthening of the remedies which bereaved families can seek”, should that duty be breached.
Based on proposals for Hillsborough Law designed to help families affected by the stadium tragedy, Mr Sarwar said he hopes the changes will mean that “never again does a grieving parent have to beg for the truth to come to light”.
The proposed Bill will be named after 10-year-old Milly, who had been in remission from leukemia at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) but then died from an infection believed to have been caused by the hospital’s water supply in 2017.
Her mother Kimberly Darroch only learned of the possible waterborne infection from a hospital whistle-blower, although the Glasgow health board has claimed it had always been “open and honest” about the infections at the flagship QEUH.
Mr Sarwar has since campaigned for transparency and repercussions for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde management alongside Ms Darroch, who has accused them of “continued secrecy”.
I have led a debate last year calling for the Scottish Parliament to declare it had no confidence in the senior management of the health board. Earlier this week Mr Sarwar accused NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde of having “no shame” after it awarded its chief executive an “excellence in leadership” award.
Mr Sarwar will set out further details of the proposed legislation at the Scottish Labor conference that starts on Friday.
He is expected to say: “This must be a watershed moment in our politics, where we recognize that for too many people – when they need help the most – their Government and their institutions work against them, not for them.
“Who seek to protect themselves, not families.
“The duty of candor may exist in principle in Scotland’s NHS but that is not the lived experience for too many.
“Learning from the families who’ve fought for justice at Hillsborough, and from cases here in Scotland like the C-diff scandal and the Clutha tragedy, we will change the law to fundamentally reset the balance – and create a system that is on the side of families, not institutions, and that deliver justice, not cover-ups.
“In recognition of Kimberly’s fight for justice, we will call this new law ‘Milly’s Law’.
“It will put bereaved families at the heart of the response to disasters and public scandals so that never again does a grieving parent have to beg for the truth to come to light.”