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Teenage cancer patient claims Glasgow children’s hospital is ‘sick’

Molly Cuddihy

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Molly Cuddihy contracted a rare bacterial infection when she was undergoing cancer treatment two years ago

A teenage cancer patient hopes a public inquiry will reveal the truth behind a series of infection outbreaks at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.

Molly Cuddihy, who has bone cancer, contracted a rare infection when she was undergoing treatment in 2018.

Two wards were forced to close as a result and the 18-year-old said the fact they remain shut two years later has had a profound effect on patients.

Molly told BBC Reporting Scotland: “That building itself is sick.”

Next week a public inquiry will look at issues relating to ventilation and building systems at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow, which includes the Royal Hospital for Children.

It will also look at the new Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh, which had its opening halted at the last minute because similar problems were discovered.

The inquiry was ordered after patients’ families raised safety concerns.

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Molly Cuddihy

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Molly and her friend Sara when they were both patients at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow

Molly said the movement of children and young people to a temporary adult ward has had a profound impact on their care.

She said: “In 2A we had a home, we had the kitchen where the kids could go and play and they were all friends and the teenagers could go and be ‘mopey teenagers’ and get something to eat.

“It’s great and you have a family and you need that support system, you need that hug because it is so difficult to deal with all the side-effects of the cancer.

“But then we are thrown out of our wee bubble, because it’s not safe obviously, and we are sent to an adult ward.”

Molly said staff have done their best to try and make it as comfortable as possible for the children.

But she added: “It is not the right environment, not the hug you need and it is making it difficult to deal with mentally.

“You are left with your own thoughts a lot more when you are stuck in your own room and that’s difficult.”

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Molly’s father John hopes the public inquiry will deliver answers for his family and the others affected

Molly is one of a number of patients who contracted unusual infections in the Royal Children’s Hospital and her cancer treatment had to be halted.

She said: “I think to come to terms with the fact you have cancer, especially at this age, it’s horrific. It’s not a nice headspace to be in.

“But you are supposed to go somewhere that makes you better and that’s your safe place, but that building itself is sick.

“That’s not the right environment for us to be in.”

The teenager also said it was unfair on the clinicians, who provide a “world-class service” and praised the dedicated nursing staff.

But she added: “They do deserve a phenomenal building to be giving us our treatment in, but they don’t have that. It is not safe.”

‘Robbed’

Molly’s case is one of 85 of the infection incidents being investigated.

The bacteria is still affecting her heart and lungs and is difficult to treat

Molly’s father John said: “The cancer has robbed her of her childhood, but when she also then contracts a bacteria – a very, very rare rare bacteria and you see it take hold, there is nothing you can do and it breaks your heart watching it.”

Looking ahead to the inquiry, he added: “There is a guilt, a guilt that is prevalent in every parent: ‘Have we done enough to protect our children?’

“Hopefully it will give us information that allows us to reconcile a bit better in our head what it is that exactly happened and, hopefully hold to account those – if there are those responsible – for neglecting the care, safety and wellbeing of our children.”

BBC Scotland has asked NHS Greater and Glasgow and Clyde for a response.


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