A crumbling brain surgery unit where patients have been routinely treated by the private sector for ten years is in line for a multi-million pound re-development.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is to overhaul the ‘world-leading’ Institute of Neurological Sciences (INS) which opened in 1974 and is recognised internationally for the development of the Glasgow coma scale, which measures levels of consciousness.

The unit, which is based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, provides emergency surgery for patients who have suffered catastrophic brain and spinal injuries as well as treating a range of neurological conditions including Multiple Sclerosis and is the largest of its kind in the UK.

However, the ageing buildings have been categorised as ‘very high risk’ for patients and staff due to ventilation failures, poor drainage and sewage leaks which led to elective surgery being cancelled for two years.

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Surgical site infections are said to be an ongoing issue of concern while planned operations are frequently cancelled because there are no dedicated theatres for emergency admissions. 

Health board papers state: “The lack of dedicated emergency theatres frequently impacts on the elective programme, with patients ‘bumped’ on day of surgery or cancelled at short notice to accommodate major nonelective procedures.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is to carry out a multi-million redevelopment of the crumbling Institute of Neurological Sciences where surgical site infections are said to be an

Private hospitals are said to have been used routinely for planned surgery while patients have also been transferred to NHS Lothian for  urgent operations.

In 2012, £25 million was spent improving facilities but essential upgrades to improve drainage were abandoned because the repairs would have taken 10-12 years and required multiple wards to be decanted elsewhere. 

The redevelopment has been designated a top priority for the health board due to the “clinical risks involved in not addressing the significant issues posed by the existing infrastructure”.

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The Initial Agreement was presented at meeting of the board today and will now will be referred to the Scottish Government for consideration.

A number of options are being considered including creating a new dedicated campus at a cost of £377million or integrating services into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

The backlog of maintenance issues is said to be around £25million and is resulting in snap closures of wards.

Board papers reveal that in February, the water supply was cut off in ward 64 to complete necessary upgrades which also affected a live ward with 23 beds. 

They state: “It would be a breach of Health & Safety law, not just an organisational inconvenience, to have no running water on a live ward.

"There is no appropriate decant accommodation on the QEUH estate to move an entire  acute Neurosurgery ward, especially as these patients require  immediate access back to both Neurosurgery theatres and Neuro Critical Care.”

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There have been numerous incidents of patients and staff being trapped in malfunctioning lifts in the neurosurgery building while none of the current facilities have dedicated entrances for ambulances drop offs and the entrance is often blocked to emergency vehicles by taxis and private cars.

Dr Jennifer Armstrong, Medical Director at NHSGGC, said: “The Institute of Neurological Sciences is a wonderful service that helps thousands of patients every year, but in recent times it has become clear that the facilities need updated so they are more suited to the current – and importantly future – needs of our patients, relatives, visitors and staff.

“The board’s backing of the Initial Agreement is a significant first step, and we hope that Scottish Government approval will allow us to move on to the next stage of the planning process.”

Many of the specialist clinical services the INS delivers are not offered anywhere else in Scotland, and by only a small number of centres in England. 

The service also provides surgery for head and neck cancers and thrombectomy treatment for stroke patients.

The Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit was built in 1991 and is said to be in an “acceptable condition”.

A major study involving tetraplegic patients is ongoing at the unit and early results are being hailed as the most significant breakthrough in the treatment of spinal injuries for more than 15 years.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was chosen to test a small device similar to a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine on a small number of patients.

A former rugby player who suffered a devastating spinal injury 20 years ago was able to move his toes and hold a mobile phone in his hands for the first time.