A REPORT into problems at Scotland's flagship hospital could 'fundamentally damage' the confidence of medical professionals to report serious concerns in future.

According to senior health figures the independent report into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH)) will have widespread ramifications for those considering whistleblowing.

The 200-page review, published this week, has criticised the behaviour of several NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) staff who began raising concerns about the £842m hospital as early as 2015.

Several microbiology staff resigned, while others raised formal whistleblowing complaints in 2017 as they felt their concerns over infection control and contaminated water were being ignored.

While acknowledging that the whistleblowers were correct, the report goes on to say they caused tension within the department as well as wider problems within NHSGGC.

Whistleblowers were not part of the remit of the Independent Review, led by Dr Andrew Fraser and Dr Brian Montgomery, leading to questions about why observations were made about them in the report.

Georgina Halford-Hall, chief executive of non-profit organisation Whistleblowers UK, and director of strategy and policy for the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on whistleblowing, said the report could be seen as further discrimination against the QEUH whistleblowers.

She said: "If I was one of these whistleblowers I would be going to my lawyer and suggesting that the report itself could be classed as a further detriment against me.

"It's quite clear they are targeting them, and I think there's also grounds for further grievance.

"This does nothing to instil any form of confidence about the process in Scotland to support whistleblowers. I don't think it does anything to reassure the public that concerns being raised by people they trust, by doctors and nurses, are being taken seriously."

Ms Halford-Hall also said she would urge there to be a "proper inquiry into what gone on here, the way that whistleblowers and their disclosures have been treated and the impact that has had on the public, and on them."

She added:" What also needs looked at is why none of the executives involved have been held to account. The report has been selective, and appears to err towards protecting the reputation of the hospital over patients and staff safety. Unfortunately that is a common practice of the NHS more broadly - everything is done to protect the reputation of the organisation over its responsibility to patients and staff."

A senior public health worker, who cannot be named for fear of discrimination against their employer, told the Herald on Sunday: "The report itself has missed crucial points about the systemic problems within the health board, and the sheer lack of accountability at the highest levels.

"It does nothing to shed light on the problems at the hospital as most of the information was already in the public domain. It is a 200 page document of nothing whatsoever, and appears only to seek to blame people who tried to raise concerns in the first place."

One senior NHSGGC source, who felt they could only speak anonymously or would face repercussions, said the whistleblowers in question were being targeted further within the report, and had been victimised since reporting their concerns.

They told the Herald: "The report confirms they were right to raise their concerns, but having read the chapter on whistleblowers I am appalled at the attitude towards them, in that they are deemed to be a problem. They have been damaged by the process, and this has lead to further detriment. It could also be damaging to their future career prospects, which should not be the case.

The report suggests these whistleblowers were impatient that things weren't happening fast enough, and they were disgruntled - we're talking about patient safety at the end of the day.

"It states they were upsetting parents and families - but there is no evidence of that. I think the families and parents have said repeatedly they are glad that someone is telling them the truth."

Graeme Eunson, Chair of BMA Scotland’s Consultant Committee said there was still progress to be made around the way whistleblowers are treated in Scotland.

He said:“If our NHS is to truly be an open and learning organisation, with safety at its heart then a robust, transparent system for whistleblowing, or raising concerns must be in place. We have seen some steps in the right direction on this – but there is still some way to go.

“There is clearly some debate around the issues involved at the QEUH, although it is equally clear that legitimate concerns have been raised. It is vital when this happens, that staff have faith in the system that operates, and that this system is entirely focussed on ensuring that healthcare is being delivered safely and in a safe setting. If as a result of doctors, or healthcare staff, raising legitimate concerns they are then subject to repercussions, or made to feel they were in the wrong for doing so, then this will not help our NHS to provide safe care, or people to feel confident in coming forward in future.

“These issues were picked up strongly in the Sturrock report on culture in NHS Highland last year, and the challenges around whistleblowing and raising concerns do still remain in many parts of the NHS."

When asked why there had been so much focus on whistleblowers despite not being within the remit of the inquiry, and about the suggestion the report could damage whistleblowers' confidence, a spokesman said he would not comment.