Two patients took own lives at scandal-hit Glasgow hospital just as it was fined £200k over previous failings

A flagship hospital lost two patients to suicide – just as it was fined £200,000 over its failings in another case.

One person took their life at scandal-hit Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow last September and another shortly after the huge fine was imposed in November.

A potential third suicide soon after was narrowly averted by staff, it is understood.

The May 2015 death of Anne Clelland led to the health board being fined in November over failings.

The deaths are among 20 suicides at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde hospitals since 2015 – higher than all other health boards that gave figures to the Sunday Mail.

The numbers were described as “absolutely shocking” last night while questions have also been asked about whether the layout of the £842million QEUH contributed to the deaths.

In the three years prior to the QEUH’s opening in 2015, NHSGGC had been convicted and found three times over failings that contributed to three patients dying by suicide.

QEUH was expected to restore public confidence but in the month after it opened, it had its first death by suicide.

Anne, 49, who had a history of self-harm, was admitted on May 7 after a suicide attempt.

She was assessed as “medically fit to leave” QEUH on May 15, but a miscommunication saw her spend the weekend there instead of being moved.

She was found unconscious in an en-suite bathroom at QEUH on May 18 and pronounced dead the next day.

Fining NHSGGC over her death, Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull said: “In this particular case, the harm caused could not have been greater – as a consequence of the board’s admitted failure Ms Clelland lost her life.”

Craig Hoy – Conservative MSP

An informed source said the judgment sounded “generous” in light of the further incidents and added: “It’s not an easy matter but you have to think something is going wrong if since September, QEUH has had two more suicides and another close call.

“There are some matters relating to the design of QEUH that should be addressed in the interests of keeping patients safe.”

The QEUH is already at the center of a public inquiry investigating whether the design of the building’s ventilation system could have contributed to the deaths of children in a cancer ward.

In the period NHSGGC hospitals had 20 suicides, NHS Lothian’s had eight and NHS Tayside’s had five. Grampian, Borders, Western Isles and Ayrshire all recorded “fewer than five”.

Exact figures are not given when they are very small in case identification issues emerge.

Other boards recorded none or declined to answer, citing exemptions.

The Crown Office is understood to have probed the deaths at the QEUH towards the end of last year with support from the Health and Safety Executive.

Scottish Conservative shadow mental health minister, Craig Hoy MSP, said: “It is absolutely shocking to hear of a significant number of suicides taking place in hospital environments.”

An NHSGGC spokesman said yesterday: “Our staff do everything they can to protect people while they are in our care.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are working with our National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group to develop and test processes for reviews of all deaths by suicide.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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