THE Scottish Government is “leaking trust by the minute” over its handling of the child deaths at Glasgow’s £842million super-hospital, Jackson Carlaw has said.
The acting Scottish Tory leader put the charge to Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions after a row about comments by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.
It emerged last week that 10-year-old Milly Main had died in August 2017 after contracting an infection at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) while recovering from leukaemia.
Her mother Kimberly Darroch has said she is 100 per cent certain contaminated water at the hospital was to blame for her daughter’s death.
It then emerged at the weekend that police were investigating the death of a three-year-old boy at the same hospital a few days after Milly’s death.
Concerns over contaminated water at the QEUH forced the closure of two wards at the children’s hospital on its campus in September last year.
Ms Freeman has said she expects contaminated water to be examined by a forthcoming public inquiry into the Glasgow site and the delayed Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital.
On Monday, she was asked on BBC Radio Scotland if she knew “about the death of the three-year-old and the subsequent investigation”.
She replied: “No, I didn’t know.”
However she later told MSPs she had been told of the boy’s death last year, and her officials had written to his mother.
Mr Carlaw said the changing story was damaging trust in the hospital, the health board and the government.
Ms Sturgeon expressed her condolences to those affected, and reiterated Ms Freeman’s apology to them over what they felt was inadequate information from the health board.
She said: “The Scottish Government is determined that they will get answers to their questions, and a range of work is on-going to ensure that that is the case.
“When the health secretary answered ‘No’ on the radio, she was referring to the investigation. It was a two-part question, in which the latter part was about the investigation. There was no notification of the investigation to the Scottish Government by the board or, indeed, of the referral to the Scottish fatalities investigation unit.
“However, the cabinet secretary had previously been in correspondence with the family and their representative about the loss. Let me be absolutely clear: the Scottish Government is determined that we will, on behalf of the families concerned, get to the bottom of all their questions. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to do so.”
Mr Carlaw said it was “extraordinary” that Ms Sturgeon was backing up Ms Freeman’s “current version of events”.
He said: “At the heart of the matter is the death of young children, but it is increasingly about trust.
“As more details of the scandal grudgingly emerge, the SNP Government is leaking trust by the minute.
“Ministers go on the radio to say that they do not know about deaths that have taken place, but it is only when MSPs bring evidence to the chamber that ministers suddenly admit that actually they did know, and give frankly ludicrous explanations for the change of position.”
Ms Sturgeon denied Ms Freeman’s story kept changing.
She said: “We are determined that every question that has been raised here will be answered. They will be answered for the parents concerned and for the sake of the wider public, who have a right to expect that the services that a hospital provides are safe and of high quality.”
Ms Sturgeon also said there was “a strong case” for putting NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde into special measures, with Government oversight.
Ms Freeman has said special measures remains “an option” for the health board.
Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar, who has led calls for clarity on the deaths, said: “It is welcome that Ms Sturgeon hasn’t ruled out putting the health board into special measures.
“It’s clear that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde isn’t fit for purpose.
“The chief executive of the health board needs to break her silence and start providing answers about what went so catastrophically wrong.
“Parents, patients and the public deserve the truth.”