Health experts say they “can’t be sure” how many patients died or became unwell after suffering bacterial infections linked to the water and ventilation systems at Glasgow’s super-hospital.

The family of an elderly woman who passed away in January after contracting a bug linked to pigeon droppings at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital were given the chance to grill the two men heading up a government inquiry looking at whether the design of the building contributed to infection rates.

Beth Cowan’s mother passed away in January after she developed the Crytococcus infection, which was named as a contributory factor in her death. Another patient, a boy of 10 believed to have been treated for cancer, also died.

A number of other young patients became unwell after suffering infections linked to the water supply at the children’s hospital while another woman died after suffering from a fungal infection.

The government inquiry will focus specifically on infection control at the adult and children’s hospitals an examine whether the hospital environment is not allowing staff to provide “optimal care.”

Dr Andrew Fraser, co-chair of the independent review, said: “One character of our remit is to learn lessons from what has happened for future hospitals.

“There have been several deaths and other cases where people have become ill and haven’t died and we don’t know the full picture yet. I can’t be certain (how many people have been affected)."

He said any “lessons learned” would be made public at the earliest opportunity so ensure there is full transparency.

Patients and their families, as well as staff, will be asked to submit their concerns to the inquiry as well as those who were involved in the design and construction of the building and other experts involved in healthcare construction.

Ms Armstrong asked if the hospital’s proximity in Govan to a sewage works could be linked to the infection rates, while Jim Cowan, the husband of a woman who also died, questioned whether there had been any concerns at the old, Southern General hospital.

She said: “There have been some concerns about the site and the proximity to a sewage site. Is questioning the choice of site going to be part of the review? Will there be an obligation to act on your findings?”

Mr Fraser said: “The hospital is where it is. We are very conscious that there has been a hospital at that site for a very long time.

“We will take into account views but I think our provisional assessment is that the hospital is where it is and if there are strong theories that are associations with the external environment we will take them into account.

“We will take into account but it won’t be a prime focus.”

In response to Mr Cowan’s question, they said: “One of the things we will certainly look at is the infection rate at the previous arrangement.”

The inquiry will also examine whether there were any changes to the original design plans for the hospital, which was built by Brookfield Multiplex and whether that might have contributed.

The government review will not look at other, older buildings on the campus or aspects which do not “impact directly on infection prevention and control” such as safety concerns over the external cladding on the building. There are a number of other inquiries ongoing, including one being led by the health board.

Dr Brian Montgomery, co-chair, was asked if there was evidence that concerns about the hospital already known such as water purity “have been fully addressed.”

He said: “The answer to that is not yet. We are of course looking at the other processes that are in place and we will take consignace of whatever it comes up with. “We will be pushing to see progress made.”