Milly’s Law: Anas Sarwar unveils plan for new law after death at Glasgow hospital

Scottish Labour has unveiled plans for a new law following the death of ten-year-old Milly Main following an infection at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

“Milly’s Law” will aim to “reset the balance between families and powerful public bodies”, allowing families to be at the centre of responses to disasters and public health scandals.

The law would be modelled on proposals following the Hillsborough disaster.

As part of the proposal, Labour has called for an independent public advocate to act on behalf of bereaved families, improved access to legal advice and representation, and a requirement that evidence and findings of major public inquires must be taken fully into account at any subsequent criminal trials.

Milly Main and mother Kimberly Darroch

Labour leader Anas Sarwar will outline proposals for the law at the Scottish Labour conference on Friday.

‘Watershed moment’

“This must be a watershed moment in our politics, where we recognise that for too many people – when they need help the most – their government and their institutions work against them, not for them,” he is expected to say.

“Who seek to protect themselves, not families.

“The duty of candour may exist in principle in Scotland’s NHS, but that is not the lived experience for too many.

“Learning from the families who’ve fought for justice at Hillsborough, and from cases here in Scotland like the C-diff scandal and the Clutha tragedy, we will change the law to fundamentally reset the balance – and create a system that is on the side of families, not institutions, and that delivers justice, not cover-ups.

“In recognition of [Milly’s mother] Kimberly’s fight for justice, we will call this new law ‘Milly’s Law’.

“It will put bereaved families at the heart of the response to disasters and public scandals, so that never again does a grieving parent have to beg for the truth to come to light.”

What happened to Milly?

It comes as wards 2A and 2B, the children’s cancer wards known as the Schiehallion unit, are set to reopen at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) on the QEUH campus following a £9 million refurbishment.

The wards were closed in 2018 following concerns over possible water contamination.

Subsequent reports found the infection linked to Milly’s death in 2017 was “probably” related to the hospital environment.

Giving evidence to the ongoing Scottish Hospitals Inquiry into the QEUH campus, Milly’s mother Kimberly Darroch has called for the hospital to be closed.

Dr Scott Davidson, deputy medical director at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said the health board was confident the refurbished wards were safe.

“The return to the RHC is an important moment for patients, relatives and carers, and staff, and we have put in place a comprehensive plan to ensure the move goes smoothly, and that our young patients and their families or carers are fully supported, and kept safe,” he said.

“Through the extensive work we have carried out, we are confident that we have the highest-quality and safest environment in which to look after all the needs of our young patients and their families or carers.”