FAMILIES waiting for answers about potentially lethal problems at Glasgow and Edinburgh’s children’s hospitals may have to wait until 2023, it has emerged.

The Scottish Government yesterday awarded a contract for services to the official inquiry that will run for at least three years.

The £110,000 deal for public relations services to the inquiry is due to start next month and run to the end of July 2023.

The contract was awarded to Glasgow’s 3x1 Group, who also do the PR for the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry, which has so far lasted six years and cost £11m.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman ordered a public inquiry into Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital food Children in September last year.

It followed infection-related deaths at the Glasgow hospital and the delayed opening of the Edinburgh hospital because of problems with its ventilation system.

In November, Ms Freeman appointed the serving Court of Session judge Lord Brodie as chair of the inquiry.

In January this year, the case of 10-year-old Milly Main was referred to prosecutors.

Her mother has blamed possible contaminated water at the QEUH for her death, however NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board said this has not been proved.

In June, a separate review found QEUH cancer patients were “exposed to a risk that could have been lower” due to the way the £850m super-hospital, was designed and maintained.

However it found no clear cut evidence that the campus’s design caused avoidable deaths.

Ms Freeman issued the terms of reference for the inquiry last month - but did not put a timescale on it.

Lord Brodie, who starts work on August 3, will examine “adequacy of ventilation, water contamination and other matters adversely impacting on patient safety and care”; whether these issues could have been prevented; their impacts on patients and their families; and whether the buildings provide a safe and suitable environment.

He will also consider whether there was a cover-up in which “any individual or body deliberately concealed or failed to disclose evidence of wrongdoing or failures in performance or inadequacies of system”, and whether whistleblowing was discouraged.

Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said: “Parents and patients have already waited months for the answers they deserve. We need urgent clarification about how long they will have to wait for the public inquiry to report, which should be as soon as practicably possible to prevent unnecessary anxiety for those affected.”

Held under the Inquiries Act 2005, the probe has the power to summon witnesses and documents.

It is supposed to report “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the Public Inquiry is independent of Ministers, it will be for the Chair to direct how [it] delivers the terms of reference, as well as making decisions on issues such as how much time is required to hear and fully consider the evidence before reaching conclusions.”