What is the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry about?
WHICH HOSPITALS IS THE INQUIRY LOOKING INTO?
This is a statutory public inquiry set up under the Inquiries Act 2005 to investigate the construction of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus, Glasgow, and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Edinburgh. The Inquiry is independent of Scottish Ministers, which means that the direction and manner of the Inquiry is for its Chair. The remit sets out that the Inquiry is to report on certain questions and to make recommendations to ensure that any past mistakes are not repeated in future NHS infrastructure projects.
WHY HAS A PUBLIC INQUIRY BEEN SET UP?
The Inquiry came about as a result of public concern over issues arising in relation to the built environment of two hospitals and its potential impact on patients and others. This concern was reflected in widespread media coverage in relation to issues raised by patients and their families, debates and questions to the Cabinet Secretary in the Scottish Parliament and a number of investigations.
WHAT IS THE INQUIRY ASKED TO LOOK INTO?
The Inquiry’s Remit and Terms of Reference were published by the Scottish Government on 15 June 2020 following consultation with the Inquiry Chair, patients and families and health spokespeople across parliament. The Inquiry began its work on 3 August 2020.
HOW WERE THE TERMS OF REFERENCE ARRIVED AT?
The Inquiry Terms of Reference were developed in close consultation with the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament Health Leads, and affected families.
How does a public inquiry work?
WHO IS UNDERTAKING THE PUBLIC INQUIRY?
The Inquiry Chair is the Right Honourable Lord Brodie QC PC.
Lord Brodie was appointed a judge of the Supreme Courts in 2002 and a member of the Inner House in 2012. He became a member of the Privy Council in 2013. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, announced Lord Brodie’s appointment as Chair of the Inquiry to the Scottish Parliament on 28 November 2019. Lord Brodie formally took up his role on the 3 August 2020.
WHAT LEGISLATION UNDERPINS THE INQUIRY?
The Inquiry is set up using the Inquiries Act 2005 and the Inquiries Rules (Scotland) 2007.
WHAT IS THE CHAIR’S ROLE?
The Chair is responsible for discharging the inquiry’s terms of reference and he decides its procedures, subject to a statutory duty to act fairly. The Chair supervises the running of the inquiry and will write the report at its conclusion, making findings of fact and recommendations for the future. The Chair cannot make any findings of civil or criminal liability, nor can he award any compensation.
TO WHOM IS THE CHAIR ACCOUNTABLE?
As Chair of the Inquiry, Lord Brodie acts in an independent capacity.
WHAT ARE THE KEY STEPS IN AN INQUIRY?
Any public inquiry is made up of ten stages, the details of which can be found here.
WHAT IS THE FORMAT OF THE INQUIRY?
The Scottish Hospitals Inquiry has been established under the Inquiries Act 2005. Other inquiries established under the 2005 Act include the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, the Edinburgh Trams Inquiry and Skeku Bayoh Inquiry. Such inquiries are essentially inquisitorial in nature and, subject to the legislative provisions, their procedure and conduct are matters for the Chair to decide. As such, no two inquiries are the same. The Inquiry is charged with carrying out an investigation within its terms of reference.
WHAT POWERS DOES THE INQUIRY HAVE?
Under the Inquiries Act 2005 the Chair has a wide range of powers, including the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.
HOW CAN I BE SURE THE INQUIRY WILL GET TO THE TRUTH?
It is right and proper that the Inquiry will make best use of the information available to it and will consider all material which is in scope of the published Terms of Reference. The Inquiry will only make findings that are soundly based on that material.
How can I get involved?
The Inquiry encourages anyone who holds relevant information or documents to provide them to the Inquiry. Information should be provided in the form of a written statement. Should you wish to provide relevant information please contact the Inquiry team in the first instance and before submitting the information. Further details on the treatment of such documents will be published shortly. The team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
WILL I BE A WITNESS?
A witness is someone who has evidence relating to the matters being investigated by the Inquiry, as set out in the Terms of Reference. This could be as a witness to an event or through the records they hold, such as videos, photographs or documentation. Witnesses may be called to give evidence in the form of a written or oral statement and may also be asked to appear at an Inquiry hearing. The Inquiry team will identify and call witnesses to give evidence.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE CORE PARTICIPANT STATUS?
Under the Inquiry Rules 2007 core participants can include individuals, organisations or entities with a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters to which the Inquiry relates. Those designated as core participants may participate in the Inquiry in a number of ways including:
- Making an opening and closing statement at certain hearings;
- Their recognised legal representative may apply to the Chairman to ask questions of a witness; and
- They receive a copy of the Inquiry’s report in advance of publication
Should you wish to apply for core participant status please apply in accordance with the Inquiry’s Protocol for Applying for Core Participant status, which you can find here
The Chair will consider applications for core participant status in accordance with the criteria set out in that Protocol
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANISATION IS DESIGNATED AS A CORE PARTICIPANT?
The Inquiry will write to applicants or their legal representative confirming if they have been designated as a core participant. The Inquiry will liaise with CPs through legal representatives, or direct where representation is not in place, with details of how they can participate.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANISATION IS NOT DESIGNATED AS A CORE PARTICIPANT – ARE THEY STILL ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE INQUIRY?
Not being awarded core participant status does not preclude an individual or organisation from participating in the Inquiry as a witness or attending hearings in person as a member of the public.
DO CORE PARTICIPANTS NEED TO BE LEGALLY REPRESENTED?
Anyone designated as a core participant is entitled to appoint a legal representative if they wish. Whether the Inquiry will fund legal costs and, if so, to what extent, is a separate issue. Further details on this will be published shortly.
Where will the Inquiry hearings be held and will they be public?
WHERE WILL THE PUBLIC INQUIRY BE LOCATED?
To maintain its independence, the Inquiry is securing premises in central Edinburgh. These will be located close to public transport facilities and will be accessible to the public during the oral hearings. The operation of the Inquiry will take account of Scottish Government guidance on social distancing and other matters related to Covid-19. These may include using video relay of hearings, and the opportunity to give evidence by video link.
WILL THE HEARINGS BE TELEVISED?
Hearings are planned to be live-streamed and available to watch with transcripts and videos published following each hearing.
WILL RECORDS OF HEARINGS BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PUBLIC?
On each day of hearings, the transcript and evidence considered will be published on the Inquiry’s website unless any contrary order or restriction notice made under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005 is in place. Directions, submissions and rulings will also be made available as appropriate.
How long will the Inquiry take and how much will it cost?
HOW LONG WILL THE PUBLIC INQUIRY TAKE?
The Inquiry started its work on 3 August 2020. The key task of the Inquiry is to establish the facts with as much certainty as possible, determine accountability, find lessons to be learnt and make recommendations to prevent recurrence, and to restore public confidence. Since the quantity of evidence is not known, it is too early to confirm when the hearings will be held or when the report will be available. Due to the scale of the hospitals projects, it is likely that the whole process will take a number of years.
WE NEED ANSWERS NOW; WHEN WILL WE GET THEM?
The Inquiry must be fair and open; this means it takes time to consider all the facts and evidence not rush to judgement.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Although the Inquiry is independent of Ministers, it is fully funded by the Scottish Government. Due to this, setting a budget on the Inquiry may be seen as limiting its independence. The Inquiries Act 2005 obliges the Inquiry to consider the cost of the Inquiry since it is funded from the public purse. The costs of the Inquiry will be regularly reported on its website.
DOES THE INQUIRY HAVE A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION POLICY?
The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, but will endeavour to conduct proceedings in an open and transparent manner. As part of this, as much information as possible will be provided on this website.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR LEGAL REPRESENTATION AT PUBLIC EXPENSE?
Funding at public expense may be available to core participants or witnesses. In these cases, the Chair will take into account the circumstances of the applicant and awards will generally not be made to those who otherwise would have the means to access representation, e.g. through membership of a professional body.