By Alistair Grant

NICOLA Sturgeon has been urged to intervene amid claims a child with cancer died after contracting an infection linked to a contaminated water supply at Glasgow’s flagship hospital.

Scottish Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said the First Minister has not been told the truth about what happened.

It came after the Daily Record reported the child’s parents were not told about the link, which emerged following investigations into infections in children in the cancer wards at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) in Glasgow in 2017.

Two wards at the RHC were closed last September and patients moved to the adjoining Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) as Health Protection Scotland (HPS) investigated water contamination incidents.

An HPS investigation found 23 cases of blood stream infections with organisms potentially linked to water contamination were identified between January 29 and September 26, 2018.

Yesterday, it was reported a clinician-led team at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde investigated further back than 2018.

A whistleblower who contacted Mr Sarwar claimed this investigation found up to 26 cases of water supply infections in children in the cancer wards in 2017, and that one child with cancer died after contracting an infection.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGCC) insisted its “overriding priority” is the safety of its patients, and that tests have shown the water supply is safe.

Mr Sarwar raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions, and called on Ms Sturgeon to take action.

He said: “I have had information shared with me which shows that senior managers have been repeatedly alerted to the fact that a previous review failed to include cases of infection related to the water supply in 2017.

“Central to this whistleblowing evidence is that there were 26 infections at the children’s cancer ward, and in one case a child died as a result.

“To this day, the parents have never been told. This isn’t just a scandal, it is a heart-breaking human tragedy.

“First Minister…you aren’t being told the truth. I implore you, for the sake of the staff who were put in this unforgivable situation, for the sake of all the patients who use this hospital, for the sake of public trust in our institutions, but most of all for the sake of those parents – particularly of the child that has lost their life – will you please personally intervene to seek answers, to get justice for the families and to take the necessary actions so this never happens again.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “Patient safety is paramount and that’s exactly why the Health Secretary [Jeane Freeman] commissioned the independent review into the design, build, commissioning and maintenance of the QEUH and it’s also why, on September 18, a public inquiry into the issues at the hospital and the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh was announced.

“We are determined to address the concerns of patients and families and the Health Secretary is committed to returning to Parliament to set out the full details of the public inquiry as soon as possible.”

An NHSGGC spokesman said: “We rigorously review all cases of infection to ensure that our patients are appropriately cared for.

“We also completed an additional clinical review of the cases from 2017 in July 2019.

“This was carried out by senior clinical staff and it was concluded that no further action was required.

“Further to this, we have been working closely with external advisers Health Protection Scotland, assisted by Strathclyde University, on a review of cases of infection over a period from January 2015 to September 2019 and this report is due imminently.

“It is important to make clear that the water supply to the Royal Hospital for Children and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is safe to use.”