Media discourse on New Southern General amplified unfounded rumours

By stewartb:

The Unreported? – more from the review of the new Southern General Hospital (aka the South Glasgow Hospital)

Media coverage and politics

The report of this independent review makes telling, if ‘diplomatically put’, comments about the public discourse around claims of what had happened in terms of infections and deaths in Glasgow’s major new hospital. It’s worthwhile amplifying these comments through the channel provided by the Tusker.


In various places in the report the authors provide this crucial context which, even as an ‘alert’ consumer of the news media in Scotland, I warrant many would have been – may still – be unaware:

Para 8.29.5. “The link between the patient who died and who was associated with Mucor infection has been explicitly discounted. The link between two patients with Cryptococcus infection and bird-borne carriage of the organism does not have a sound evidential basis. Other potential explanations and matters remain under review by an expert group commissioned by NHS GG&C.”

Here the report make some ‘interesting’ comments – and it’s probably not unreasonable to the read between lines:

Para 9.12.18: “Theories, hypotheses and possibilities have been transmitted and discussed in the media and Scottish Parliament in a way that has given them an undeserved provenance. In the case of the reported death of a patient from the fungal infection Mucor, subsequent analysis disproved the link between the event, the pathogen and the patient outcome but there has been little success in retracting or replacing the original and disproven narrative.”

And to drive the point home:

Para 9.12.19: “Communications through Government and Parliament – we recognise the need for accurate and sensitive reporting of clinical events as part of the democratic process. All who contribute to the chain of communication need to understand the need to signal information that is firm and factual, as distinct from information that is tentative and belongs to a hypothesis and is subject to confirmation.

The report has a tendency to repeat itself – presumably for emphasis (and perhaps in an attempt again to counter a prevailing media narrative?) – notably on these crucial issues:

Para 8.32.2: “We have taken a view on the three cases of infection that gave rise to the establishment of the Review. We note that, in the case of isolation of Mucor in a patient and their subsequent death, further case investigation has ruled out a firm link with the two events. In the case of the two people with Cryptococcus infection, there is not a sound evidential basis on which to make a link between their infection, subsequent deaths, and the presence or proximity of pigeons or their excrement.

There are other ‘unreported’ aspects of this report which hopefully will also receive proper amplification in time.

7 thoughts on “Media discourse on New Southern General amplified unfounded rumours”

  1. No doubt the authors of the report
    Are under the most onerous of circumstances
    Deploying fairness in a clever way in the no doubt vain hope that the spewers of propaganda can be challenged
    But do not expect any form of apology from any in the MSM
    such merely demonstrates the depths the
    Propagandists have sunk to and now stuck upon the slimy sewerage at the bottom of the dark waters they inhabit
    And the dirty tricks they deploy
    No way their masters ever free them from the Devils work
    This is no way for a civilised society to be
    Informed of serious matters

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post, Stewart. I hope John will give some consideration to submitting evidence to the inquiry by Lord Brodie. The BBC helped to create and sustain the narrative and helped to ensure that there was no retracting or replacing the narrative.

    “But experts told the BBC it would be difficult to rule out a link with pigeons nesting in the hospital.

    Epidemiologist Dr Kevin Pollock said: “The primary source of infection for Cryptococcus in individuals in the northern hemisphere is pigeon faeces.

    “I think the fact that you have two cases in space and time within a month of each other in an environment where potentially you have a large amount of pigeon faeces, that’s what I’d call the smoking gun hypothesis.”

    Andrew Streifel, who is based at the University of Minnesota Medical Centre in the US, has consulted on infection prevention and outbreaks at more than 400 hospitals around the world.

    He told the programme it was very unusual for patients to contract Cryptococcus.

    “Unless the patient was around the rookery or some kind of intense bird sanctuary, I wouldn’t believe that anybody in a hospital would get something like that and it bothered me a lot when they say it’s coincidental, that it just happens. No, it doesn’t just happen,” he said.

    “It seems too much of a coincidence that two cases were found in the same institution but on different wards.”

    The Armstrong family says the latest review has added to a sense that the authorities are not being straight with them.


  3. I think there’s a similarity here with the reporting of patients who were discharged from hospitals into Care homes without testing. I feel the unreliability of CV testing on patients who were not displaying CV symptoms is wilfully ignored by both media and opposition MSP’s in order to score points.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Two dead after pigeon dropping infection at hospital

    “Two patients have died after contracting a fungal infection caused by pigeon droppings at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital….

    …..Prof Hugh Pennington, of Aberdeen University, said he was surprised to learn of the infection.

    The epidemiologist said: “It is very unusual in the UK.

    “It is quite common in other parts of the world, particularly in tropical parts and in the US and in countries like that, where they have more problems with this particular kind of fungus.”

    Prof Pennington said people with weak immune systems are most at risk.

    He added: “When it gets into the blood stream a lot of people have fairly straightforward infections and it settles in the lungs but the big problem with this is that it can cause meningitis and, as we know, meningitis can be a very serious infection.”

    Prof Pennington said anti-fungal drugs are used to treat the infection but warned it can be fatal if it is not diagnosed.”


  5. “Child’s death linked to Glasgow hospital pigeon infection.”

    “An infection linked to pigeon droppings was a “contributing factor” in the death of a child at a Glasgow hospital, it has been confirmed….

    …..The likely source of the infection has been traced to a 12th floor room containing machinery, which is not open to the public. Ms Freeman said traces of excrement had been found in the room, where there was a small break in the wall which was “invisible to the naked eye”.


  6. “Prosecutors investigate second pigeon infection death
    29 January 2019”

    Prosecutors are now investigating the deaths of two patients after they contracted an infection connected to pigeon droppings at a Glasgow hospital.

    The Crown Office confirmed it was looking into the death of a 73-year-old woman at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital earlier this month.

    Prosecutors are already probing the death in December of a 10-year-old boy.”


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