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VICTIMS OF THE VICTORIA; IMRAN PROBE: HOSPITAL BACKS CALLS FOR FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRY AFTER DEATH TRIAL HIGHLIGHTS FAILINGS.

Under-fire Victoria Infirmary last night backed calls for an investigation into its handling of the death of stabbed teenager Imran Khan.

Demands for a fatal accident inquiry came after hospital staff were heavily criticised during the murder trial of 17-year-old twins Colin and Craig Gilmour.

Defence lawyer Donald Findlay QC insisted Imran, 15, was killed by the incompetence of hospital staff.

At one stage in Imran's eight-day long battle for life, hospital staff gave him a throat lozenge. What he really needed was treatment for blood poisoning.

On Wednesday, Colin Gilmour was sentenced to seven years for the attempted murder of Imran.

Yesterday, as demands for a probe into the running of the Victoria grew, it was revealed Mr Findlay may help Imran's family sue the hospital for compensation.

During the trial, the High Court in Glasgow heard blood samples could not be taken from Imran because he was being examined as "an interesting case" by medical staff.

They realised too late that the teenager was dying from an infection, caused after a chest drain was improperly moved.

Junior doctor Gillian Proctor, 24, who graduated just seven months before, denied moving the drain, although she mentioned it in medical notes.

A spokesman for the hospital on Glasgow's south side said yesterday: "We believe it would be in the interests of everyone involved if the calls for the FAI were responded to by the procurator fiscal's office swiftly and positively.

"The management and medical staff of the Victoria Infirmary believe that the context of an FAI would be far more appropriate in revealing and establishing publicly the factual circumstances surrounding both Imran Khan's death and the medical treatment which he received, rather than in the heated atmosphere of a murder trial."

The latest criticism of the 108-year-old hospital comes after staff were linked to the deaths of two other teenagers.

Ian Mackie, 15, died in almost identical circumstances to Imran after he was admitted to the Victoria suffering a stab wound to the lung in 1992. A court was told Ian would have lived if the infection had been spotted earlier.

Gordon Niven, 16, died of a fractured skull two days after he fell off his bike and injured his head in September last year. He was taken to the Victoria Infirmary but staff called for police to arrest him and he was put in a police cell after he became abusive and lashed out at nurses. His parents want an inquiry.

The hospital was also linked to the death of Sandra Mitchell, who died of severe haemorrhaging after giving birth at Rutherglen Maternity. Staff who made urgent calls to the Victoria Infirmary for blood were kept hanging on the phone and it took 90 minutes to obtain supplies.

Yesterday, politicians, patients, watchdog groups and unions added to the calls for an inquiry into the Imran case.

Yesterday, health union UNISON backed calls by local MP Mohammed Sarwar for an investigation.

Senior regional officer Jim Devine called for the inquiry to be widened to cover staff levels, funding and the hospital's previous management.

He said: "It is easy to point the finger at staff, either individually or collectively, without looking at the wider picture. The budget of Greater Glasgow Health Board has been reduced by nearly pounds 80million over the past 10 years.

"Staffing levels at the Victoria, in all disciplines, are amongst the poorest in Scotland, while until very recently, a very macho management culture prevailed at the hospital."

Greater Glasgow Health Board hope to implement any recommended changes before the Victoria and the Southern General hospitals merge next April to form the pounds 150million South Glasgow Hospital Trust.

A study by the Scottish Health Advisory Service two years ago uncovered horrifying allegations of neglect, mental abuse and racism at the hospital's geriatric unit.

And hospital finance director Brian Johnson was sacked for failing to expose the extent of a budget shortfall, which he estimated at pounds 500,000. It was pounds 2million.

Margaret Davidson, of Scotland Patients' Association, said yesterday: "This is a publicly run hospital and it should be run far better than it is.

"There should be a system set up to make sure everybody is carrying out correct procedures and, clearly, that is not happening here."

SNP health spokeswoman, Margaret Ewing MP said: "An FAI should be instituted as soon as possible so that any remedial measures needed can be put in place, sooner rather than later."

A spokeswoman for the General Medical Council, the professional regulatory body, said it was aware of the case. The GMC have the ultimate power to strike- off doctors from the profession.

Last night, Asian community leader Bashir Maan said Imran's mother, widow Samshad Khan, 34, was preparing to sue the hospital.

He said: "The fatal accident inquiry and complaint to the General Medical Council should be initiated at once. I will recommend that the family seek the services of Donald Findlay. "

Mr Findlay said he would be prepared to act, adding: "This was one of the most complex cases of its kind I have ever worked on."

The final decision on any FAI rests with the Crown Office.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Author:McLEAN, JIM; McLAUGHLIN, ALLISON
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 16, 1998
Words:859
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