CONCERNS about the independent review into Scotland’s flagship hospital have been raised with the Health Secretary.

Jeane Freeman has confirmed she has received several messages regarding the report into Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) which was published last month.

The details were revealed in a letter sent to Labour MSP Anas Sarwar who has also complained about the independent review’s findings and conduct.

Chaired by Dr Brian Montgomery and Dr Andrew Fraser, the probe found that vulnerable patients were “exposed to risk that could have been lower” if the £842 million hospital had been designed and built correctly.

However, investigators also dedicated a chapter to the whistleblowers, two of whom spoke to The Herald about how they tried to raise concerns over five years with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and felt as though they had been ignored.

Despite whistleblowing not being within the remit of the review, authors criticised their conduct and said they had caused tension within the health board.

Controversially it also concluded that there was no “clear link” between the cryptococcus infections which contributed to the death of a 10-year-old boy and an elderly woman, and pigeon droppings found at the facility.

Sarwar wrote to Jeane Freeman to express concern regarding the treatment of families and whisteblowers following the review’s publication.

He said: “The co-authors stated throughout the process that there remit was not to look at individual cases ... That was also the reason given for not speaking to families affected. It is therefore extremely unfortunate that they have passed judgment on individual cases.

“This is not acceptable.

“I also have a concern about how whistleblowers and individual clinicians have been treated. While professionals are not named, they are easily identifiable by their titles/roles.

“You stated during our conversation that everyone referenced in the report was contacted in advance, notified that they would be referenced and given a right of reply. I can categorically tell you that this did not happen.”

In response, Freeman said: “I appreciate the concerns you have expressed ... I would emphasise that the review was entirely independent of the Scottish Government and that both the content of its final report and the procedures it undertook were entirely a matter for the co-chairs.

“I would suggest that you raise your concerns and seek answers directly from the co-chairs ...

“I have alerted the co-chairs to the concerns raised by you and others with regard to these matters and that those raising concerns may wish to engage with co-chairs directly.”

Freeman also confirmed that the case note review looking at every case where a patient has become infected or died after contracting a hospital-acquired infection has been delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

She wrote: “I can confirm that work on this has been continuing although at a slower pace due to the pandemic.

“The Expert Panel under Professor Mike Stevens is still aiming to report on their work before the end of the year.”

Sarwar has accused the Health Secretary of “distancing herself” from the concerns raised. He said: “I share the concerns of many, including leading clinicians, about the QEUH review – and have raised these directly with the Health Secretary.

“I know I’m far from alone in raising this with Jeane, which is why she has passed on multiple concerns and is distancing herself from it.

“While the review was independent of government, it wasn’t independent from the NHS management – and it was an attempt to protect managers’ reputations and avoid blame, rather than uncover the truth that families deserve.

“There is still a long way to go in the search for answers.”

When asked about concerns raised about the review, and the delay to the case note review, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Work on the case note review is continuing.

“However, due to the impact of the current pandemic, it is progressing slower than originally expected.

“Professor Mike Stevens of the Review’s Expert Panel recently updated the families about the progress of the Review.”

A public inquiry led by Lord Brodie will begin next month, looking at the hospital failures and what could have been done differently.