HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has apologised to the parents of two children who died in Scotland’s £800 million flagship hospital after a water contamination outbreak on the ward where they were treated.

Freeman expressed her “deepest sympathies” to the families of Milly Main, 10, and a three-year-old boy when she gave a statement to Holyrood yesterday. Both children died three weeks apart in August 2017 at the hospital, which is part of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in west Glasgow.

On Monday, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) apologised for the distress caused to the parents.

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Freeman yesterday told MSPs: “To lose a loved one in any circumstances is hard, but I cannot begin to imagine the pain of losing a child in these circumstances – or the suffering and grief that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“I also want to apologise to them that they feel they have not had their questions answered.

“They are absolutely right to ask and pursue their questions, and they are entitled to have them answered and to receive the support they need.”

She said she had met with families of young patients who had received treatment at the hospital, and has asked the head of NHS Scotland to review whether any escalation of measures for the health board is required.

The five stage NHS Board Performance Escalation Framework is the Scottish equivalent of special measures, which apply in England and Wales.

Labour’s Monica Lennon asked the Health Secretary who the parents of sick children should put their trust in. Freeman replied: “They can place trust in me. I have compassion, I have empathy, and that is why I met with those families and have undertaken the work that I have done.

“I refute absolutely from Miss Lennon, or from anyone else, that I am careless or irresponsible on these matters – it could not be further from the truth. It may suit you [Lennon] to make those points for other reasons but they are not true and I refute them absolutely.”

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An independent review is examining water contamination and other problems at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus and the report will be published in the spring. A separate public inquiry, which will examine safety and wellbeing issues at the QEUH and the new children’s hospital in Edinburgh, will also look at water contamination.

Milly died on August 31 while recovering from leukaemia treatment. Her mother said she was “100%” convinced her death was linked to water contamination. NHSGGC has insisted it was impossible to determine the source of Milly’s infection because there was no requirement to test the water supply.

On Sunday police confirmed they had investigated the death of a three-year-old boy three weeks before Milly died. A report has been passed to the procurator fiscal. Last week a whistleblower revealed a review had identified 26 infections at the children’s hospital during 2017, potentially linked to contaminated water.