Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport
What happened at the Vale of Leven Hospital was a tragedy that should never be repeated. It is clear from Lord MacLean's report that system-wide and individual failures contributed significantly to the circumstances that led to suffering and untimely deaths.
Shortly after the report was published, I apologised on behalf of the Scottish Government and the NHS to all the patients and families who were let down when they were most vulnerable. Now, with the publication of the Government's response to the report, I want to take the opportunity once again to say how sorry I am to all those who were affected - and continue to be affected - by the tragedy.
I accepted all 75 recommendations from Lord MacLean's report and will continue to ensure that the Scottish Government works with NHSScotland, patients and families (and their representatives) to implement them in full. I have established an Implementation Group and Reference Group to oversee this work and put plans in place that will provide a clear focus for taking the recommendations forward.
Although NHSScotland has made significant improvements since the Vale of Leven Hospital outbreak in 2007, particularly around infection prevention and control measures, more can be done to achieve our aim of having a world-class health service. That is why we are going to go beyond some of the recommendations by working with NHS boards and staff to assure the public it is safe to go to hospital. We can do this by further improving leadership, communication, inspection and scrutiny of our NHS and strengthening current governance, performance and quality assurance systems.
While Lord MacLean's report focuses on one hospital and one NHS board, it presents clear messages for everyone up and down the country who are working in and with the healthcare system. The recommendations set out wide-ranging measures that will not only further improve infection prevention and control procedures, but will also ensure staff continue to provide highly skilled and compassionate care for patients. There is a need to ensure that no matter where an individual accesses healthcare services in Scotland, he or she experiences person-centred, safe and effective care every time.
The lessons we can all learn from Lord MacLean's report will go a long way to helping us to achieve this aim. I believe it is crucial that NHS boards continue to put systems in place to prevent mistakes happening and, when they do happen, to learn quickly from them. I know this is possible: in my previous post as a health minister and currently as the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, I have seen first-hand the commitment and professionalism of staff working in NHSScotland.
I would like to thank Lord MacLean and his team for producing a fair and comprehensive report. I would also like to thank and commend the patients and families for their strong campaign to get the Inquiry in the first place, and for the frank and honest evidence they provided at the Inquiry evidence sessions. I am pleased that a number of them are working with and challenging us as we prepare to take forward the recommendations. The heartfelt reflections that follow from the C. diff Justice Group demonstrate very clearly to me why we must learn all the lessons from this Inquiry.
Shona Robison, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport
Email: Billy Wright