Ruchill Inquiry

Administrative / Biographical History

Chaired by Simpson Stevenson, the Ruchill Inquiry was set up by the Greater Glasgow Health Board in October 1974. It remit was to inquire into the operation of Ruchill Hospital, with particular reference to the responsibilities exercised by and the support given to the nursing staff, and to incorporate its conclusions and recommendations into a report for the Board.

This action was taken in response to the trail at the High Court in Edinburgh of Jessie McTavish, a nursing sister who had been employed at Ruchill Hospital in a geriatric ward. Jessie McTavish stood accused of murdering eighty year old Mrs Elizabeth Lyon at the hospital by repeatedly injecting her with soluble insulin, as well as assaulting four other elderly female patients by administering unauthorised injections. On the 7th of October 1974, she was found guilty of murder, and of three out of the four charges of assault. The presiding Judge, Lord Robertson, sentenced her to life imprisonment, but she was freed in January 1975 when the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal overturned her murder conviction. As a result of Jessie McTavish’s trial, a number of allegations were made against Ruchill Hospital and its operation, particularly in relation to the geriatric unit.

In total, thirty-nine people appeared before the Committee of Inquiry. They included junior and senior staff, former patients, visitors, voluntary workers, and spokesmen for the Scottish Hospital Advisory Service and the Scottish Home and Health Department.

The Committee of Inquiry formally submitted its report to the Greater Glasgow Health Board on the 17th of March 1976.