A CONSULTANT whistleblower at a Glasgow hopsital at the centre of an infection scandal has called on senior clinicians to "not gaslight the entirety of the NHS staff at QEUH into believing that they are under attack" after they complained about “unfounded criticism” .

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon and her Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, 23 senior clinicians at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) have “expressed the immense frustration” after the Glasgow campus has been hit with a host of criticism over recent weeks, most notably from Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

Mr Sarwar has accused the First Minister of refusing to act over what he claims is a culture of bullying and cover-up at QEUH – with the Labour leader linking the hospital with several deaths due to infection.

The clinicians wrote: “As NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde clinicians and clinical leaders, we write to express our immense disappointment and frustration about the way in which our hospitals, our colleagues and the treatment of our patients is being portrayed in the press and the chamber of the Scottish Parliament.”

They add: “We are particularly disappointed that individual patients are being discussed in Parliament without the knowledge of the families concerned, causing untold distress to families already grieving the loss of their loved one.

“Our staff across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, including the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, provide professional, dedicated care to their patients and as we prepare for a challenging winter, this sustained criticism of our staff is undoubtedly causing them distress and worry.

“This unfounded criticism of our clinical teams and staff as well as the safety of our hospitals, is also hugely detrimental to staff morale at a time when so much is being asked of them.”

But consultant clinical microbiologist, Dr Christine Peters, a previous whistleblower at the hospital, has hit back at the letter, insisting the independent review at QUEH "did not address the issue of bullying".

She added: "Please do not gaslight the entirety of the NHS staff at QEUH into believing that they are under attack. They are not. They never have been.

"As one of the openly vocal whistleblowers since 2017, I have never critiqued clinical staff, indeed, I am on record as saying QEUH is a fantastic hospital.

"This does not mean it is perfect - or that concerns about infection control and the built environment have not been valid, whoever raises it, or that an ongoing public inquiry is the answer to acute issues.

"Let’s change the record on whistleblowing and get to a place where NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is a place where people are not scared to raise their concerns or persuaded to stay silent.

"I fully support the right of whistle blowers if in good faith they have concerns to raise them."

The letter comes ahead of Labour leader Anas Sarwar calling for Ms Sturgeon to “finally do the right thing and sack the leadership at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital” at a Holyrood debate this afternoon.

Labour claim photographs of mould, recently discovered at QEUH, and published in an academic paper expose the risks of water in seeding infection inside hospitals.

Labour’s opposition business motion focuses on patient safety, and calls on the Scottish Parliament to withdraw its confidence in the leadership of Greater Glasgow & Clyde Heath board.

The vote comes after families and clinicians came forward to speak out about a series of deaths at the flagship hospital spanning the last five years.

Mr Sarwar said that repeated pleas from the loved ones of those who have died from preventable hospital-acquired infection have been ignored.

Labour’s motion will call on MSPs to confirm they have “no confidence in the leadership of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde” and demand that the Scottish Government “must escalate the NHS board to stage 5 of the performance escalation framework without delay.”

Escalating the NHS board to level 5, the highest tier, would essentially allow ministerial control and could lead to management being relieved of their duties.

Labour have previously called for the First Minister to sack the leadership of the board and take direct ministerial control. But last week, despite previously unreported deaths related to hospital acquired infections being revealed, Mr Yousaf claimed he still had full confidence in the board and refused to take meaningful action.

Mr Sarwar said: “We have had four years of inaction and hiding behind process since the death of Milly Main. “It has been two years since the culture of cover-up and secrecy at NHSGCC was brought to light.

“People are still dying from preventable hospital acquired infections.

“A culture of bullying and intimidation at the board continues to leave staff fearful of speaking out. I have every confidence in the frontline staff, I have no confidence in the leadership of the board.

“The leadership at the health board and the oversight board put in place by the SNP Government have failed.”

He added: “Given the ongoing risks of Covid, winter pressures and the continuing issues of infection control due to the water and hospital environment, it is abundantly clear that we need a management that has the trust of the public. We need a leadership that is focused on delivering patient safety, not on spinning, bullying and cover-ups to save their jobs.

“That is why families are demanding this hospital is taken under direct ministerial control so we can get a grip of this crisis. The refusal of the First Minister to act is a dereliction of duty.

“Today’s vote is a line in the sand. Enough is enough. MSPs have a choice, they can side with families, clinicians and those campaigning for patient safety.

“Or they back a culture of secrecy, cover-up and incompetence which has had fatal consequences.”