The father of a teenage girl who developed a rare hospital-acquired infection while being treated for cancer has branded health board leaders “duplicitous, overly defensive and lacking in integrity”.

Professor John Cuddihy said that while he could not fault the care his daughter received at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde operated within a “culture of secrecy”.

He was giving evidence at the The Scottish Hospitals Inquiry (SHI) which is investigating the construction of the QEUH campus, after issues at the flagship site were linked to the deaths of two children.

His daughter Molly caught Mycobacterium Chelonae hospital in 2018 after being treated in wards 4A and 6B of the hospital resulting in critical complications and organ damage and interupting her cancer treatment.

He claimed Consultant Microbiologist Dr Theresa Inkster admitted during a meeting with him that managers had tried to conceal the fact that another child had contracted the infection, a year after his daughter.

He said: “Dr Inkster advised that they received a call from a senior member of staff telling them, under no circumstances was I to be told.

“Neither Mr Redfern nor Dr Inkster disclosed who had in fact called them, other than to say it was someone senior to them.

“From my perspective I was sitting with two very senior members of staff; Dr Inkster was the Chair of the IMT and Mr Redfern was the, then Deputy Director of Women and Children’s Services. As such the senior person had to be a Director or member of the Executive.”

He told the inquiry that Dr Inkster ran after him following the meeting and apologised for what had happened. He said she told him she had made contact with General Medical Council as “ she had been encouraged to tell lies to a parent (me) of a patient, something she would not do.”

His daughter, who has also given evidence at the inquiry, was told she had metastatic Ewing's sarcoma when she was 15 years old.

The Herald:

The now 19-year-old was cared for at the RHC and QEUH where she was fitted with a line for treatment.

Not long into her chemotherapy, Ms Cuddihy told the inquiry that her body went into septic shock - a life-threatening condition that happens when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection

Ms Cuddihy was diagnosed with mycobacterium chelonae which the family later discovered came from the hospital environment, either air or water-borne, and that had probably caused her temperature spikes and fits.

Her father said: “From my experience of dealing with NHSGGC, I found Dr Sastry, his team and those I engaged relative to the direct care and treatment of my daughter to be beyond reproach, open, honest, transparent and apologetic when the need arose. “They placed my daughter, demonstrably at the centre of their decision making, communication and engagement.

“The same cannot be said for my experience with NHSGGC corporate services; Chief Executive, Directors and Senior Managers who I found individually and collectively to be duplicitous, overly defensive, devoid of emotional intelligence and lacking in integrity with concern more for their reputation rather than patient safety.

“In terms of the corporate entity, they, as a group, have engaged in a series of wilful acts so reckless as to show an utter disregard for the consequences.

“They infused a sense of distrust through a culture of secrecy, fuelled, at best, and as stated previously, by dysfunctional or at worst, corrupt practices.

“Much is made that this is an £840-odd million facility, of course it is, and there are some magical things are enabled as a consequence but that which was spent on the facility to house these children is meaningless if you do not effectively govern, manage and protect those you have responsibility for.”

He spoke of his pride in his daughter who was accepted to study at Cambridge University in 2019.

The inquiry in Edinburgh, chaired by Lord Brodie, continues