Jeane Freeman is appearing before the UK Covid inquiry in Edinburgh on Monday (January 29). 

The former Scottish health secretary will give evidence in the afternoon, after levelling up minister Michael Gove is questioned in the morning. 

It comes after First Minister Humza Yousaf appeared before the inquiry last week, with former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon due at the hearing on Wednesday (January 31). 

Who is Jeane Freeman? 

Jeane Freeman was the MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley from 2016 to 2021. 

The SNP politician served as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport from June 2018 to May 2021 when she left Holyrood. 

Read more: Jeane Freeman named Herald Scottish Politician of the Year

Born to a working class Labour-supporting family in Ayr, Ms Freeman attended college in Glasgow before training to be a nurse.

The Herald: Jeane Freeman is former Scottish health secretary and SNP MSPJeane Freeman is former Scottish health secretary and SNP MSP

An active member of the Communist Party's student wing, she became the first woman to chair the National Union of Students Scotland in 1979. 

Ms Freeman established Apex Scotland in 1987, an organisation working with young people at risk of re-offending, and was CEO until 2000. 

She received an OBE for her services to the rehabilitation of children in the Queen's 1996 Birthday Honours. 

Jeane Freeman's career in politics

Originally a Scottish Labour member, the now 70-year-old served as senior political advisor to First Minister Jack McConnell from 2001-2005.

However, Ms Freeman became active in the campaign for Scottish independence and was a founding member of Women for Independence. 

The Herald: Jeane Freeman was originally a Scottish Labour memberJeane Freeman was originally a Scottish Labour member

In August 2015, she was selected to be the SNP candidate for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency and she won the seat at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election

Ms Freeman was appointed as the first Minister for Social Security in 2016. Then, in a June 2018 reshuffle, Nicola Sturgeon promoted her to Health Secretary. 

Glasgow hospital infection crisis and death threat

There were calls for Jeane Freeman to resign after a patient infection crisis at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow emerged in 2019. 

A number of cases of infections had been linked to water contamination at the "super hospital", which was put into special measures after the deaths of two children, aged 10 and three.

In February 2020, a 74-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with threats made to the MSP, causing her to increase security measures. 

What did Jeane Freeman do during the Covid pandemic? 

As health secretary, Ms Freeman played a major role in the Scottish Government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic

Among the serious decisions she was responsible for was discharging hospital patients to care homes without testing them for the virus. 

According to evidence heard earlier at the inquiry, 82 per cent of the 3,595 patients discharged between March 1 and April 21, 2020 were not tested for the virus. 

The Herald: Jeane Freeman was Scottish health secretary during the Covid-19 pandemicJeane Freeman was Scottish health secretary during the Covid-19 pandemic

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar described the situation as "one of the worst atrocities of the pandemic".

He said: “Jeane Freeman and Nicola Sturgeon were responsible for this decision and this week they will have the opportunity to give families the answers they deserve."

Speaking at the UK Covid Inquiry in June 2023, Ms Freeman said "no plan" could have helped the country cope with the pandemic. 

Read more: Scotland's worst-hit care homes by Covid deaths revealed

She said: “There were certainly areas where Scotland could have been better prepared, in terms of the underlying structure and the delivery of all of those the recommendations.

“But Scotland, like other countries throughout the world, was dealing with a virus which was unknown and new, so in that sense I don’t believe there is a plan that would have been possible that would have been able in and of itself to cope with Covid-19.”

Why did Jeane Freeman leave politics?

Ms Freeman announced in 2020 that she would not stand in the May 2021 Scottish Parliament election after "careful thought".

She said at the time: “It has been a real privilege and pleasure to represent the Ayrshire I grew up in and which in so many ways, made me who I am today.

“In Government and as a local MSP for a great constituency, I have learned a great deal and have had the opportunity to work with very many talented, committed and compassionate people.

The Herald: Jeane Freeman left Holyrood at the 2021 Scottish Parliament electionJeane Freeman left Holyrood at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election

“I will be 67 later this year and 72 by the end of the next Parliamentary term and while I have a great deal of energy left and more I want to do, I think it is the right time for me to stand aside and let another take forward the work as an MSP for this constituency."

In February 2022, The Herald reported Ms Freeman had landed a key role at the University of Glasgow.