NICOLA Sturgeon is facing pressure to intervene following the death of one of her former officials amid accusations of “a culture of cover-up, secrecy and denial” by health officials.

The First Minister’s official spokesperson was unable to say whether she still had confidence in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health board – as she was accused of prresiding over “the worst scandal in the devolution era”.

Father of five Andrew Slorance died in December after attending the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow for treatment for cancer – where he contracted Covid and a fungal infection.

His wife, Louise, was not told about the infection and “had to uncover it in his medical notes after his death” and has now spoken out about her experience, warning that “the hospital remains a serious risk to vulnerable patients like Andrew”.

Ms Sturgeon described Mr Slorance as being “a greatly valued member of the Scottish Government team” who she said was “deeply missed by everyone who had the privilege of working with him”, adding “that certainly includes me”.

HeraldScotland: Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister's QuestionsNicola Sturgeon at First Minister's Questions

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Anas Sarwar warned he has “repeatedly come to this chamber to raise tragedy after tragedy” at the Glasgow hospital.

He added: “Despite that, we still have a culture of cover-up, denial and families being failed.

“Andrew went into the hospital to get treatment that would prolong his life. Instead, in hospital he contracted Covid and then a fungal infection aspergillus – a deadly bacteria often linked to water or mould. He died just days later.

“His wife Louise told me that she was never informed about the fungal infection and she had to uncover it in his medical notes after his death. She has courageously spoken of her anger, her shock, her distress and her disappointment.

“Why, despite everything that has happened, do we still have a culture of cover-up, secrecy and denial with families being forced to take on the system to get the truth?”

The First Minister said her officials have already spoken with health officials in Glasgow “so that the concerns that have been raised are properly investigated”.

READ MORE: Andrew Slorance's widow claims 'cover up' over Government official's death

She added: “We will do everything possible to ensure that Andrew’s family get the answers that they are seeking and also consider very carefully whether the concerns that have been raised by Louise Slorance raise wider issues that require to be addressed.”

Ms Sturgeon confirmed that the chief operating officer of NHS Scotland has made contact with the health board “to establish the facts” before “we will assess what further steps require to be taken”.

She said: “I will not and this Government will not tolerate cover-ups or secrecy on the part of any health board and where there are concerns about that, we will address those concerns.“

But the Labour leader said there was “a repeated pattern” of people being unable to get answers following tragic incidents at the hospital.

He added: “Consider the scandal at the children’s cancer ward that led to the tragic death of Milly Main. In that case, a bacteria linked to water, stenotrophomonas, was identified by infection-control doctors, ignored by management and covered up.

“In this case, a bacteria linked to water and mould, aspergillus, was identified by infection-control doctors, ignored by management and covered up. That is a culture of secrecy and denial, and the Government cannot escape that fact.”

Mr Sarwar insisted that “such cover-ups have deadly consequences”.

He added: “The health board leadership has lost the confidence of clinicians, patients, parents and the public.

“Given everything that has already happened, and everything that has been uncovered, why is the health board leadership in Glasgow still in place?”

HeraldScotland: Anas Sarwar at First Minister's QuestionsAnas Sarwar at First Minister's Questions

The First Minister insisted that she will, alongside Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, set out “what additional steps are required”.

After FMQs, the First Minister’s official spokesman was unable to say whether the First Minster still had confidence in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS board and instead said it was right that a public inquiry taking place is allowed to proceed and give its findings.

Mr Sarwar criticised the First Minister for her officials merely making contact with the health board.

He argued that “the right thing to do would be for the First Minister to grip the issue, take ownership of it and get it sorted out”.

The Labour leader said: “Despite the tragic loss of life, the cover-ups and the denials, not a single person has been held accountable for the catastrophic errors at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. That cannot continue.

“From start to finish, the scandal has happened under Nicola Sturgeon’s watch. She was health secretary when the hospital was commissioned and built, and First Minister when it was opened.

“Since then, water reports have been ignored, there have been deadly building flaws, patients have been getting infections, wards have closed, there have been patient deaths and staff have been bullied and silenced.

“There has been an independent review, a case note review, a public inquiry, criminal investigations and continued failings and cover-ups. Families are still having to go public to fight the system and get the truth.

“Enough is enough. This is the worst scandal of the devolution era. In any other country in the world, there would be resignations and sackings, but under this Government, there is denial and cover-up."

Ms Sturgeon pointed to the “independent statutory public inquiry under way”.

She said: “It was instructed by the previous health secretary of this Government. If the Government were to start to pre-empt the outcomes of that public inquiry, I think that, with some justification, Anas Sarwar and perhaps others would say that that is wrong as well, because we were seeking to interfere with the work that the inquiry was doing.

”These are serious issues and I think that they deserve to be treated seriously and on their substance. The public inquiry is doing that work right now. The findings and any recommendations that fall from that public inquiry absolutely should be, must be and will be acted upon.

“I think that it is incumbent on all of us who care about these issues—and I know that that includes all of us in the chamber—to allow that public inquiry to do its work.”

Mrs Slorance has called for a full investigation into incidences of aspergillus at the hospital campus.

She said: "I'll never know if it was the aspergillus or the Covid, so I can't grieve a death I don't understand fully."

In response NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "We are sorry that the family are unhappy with aspects of Mr Slorance's treatment, details of which were discussed with the family at the time.

"While we cannot comment on individual patients, we do not recognise the claims being made.

"We are confident that the appropriate care was provided. There has been a clinical review of this case and we would like to reassure the family that we have been open and honest and there has been no attempt to conceal any information from them."

The health board offered to meet Mr Slorance's family to discuss the care provided and the issues they have raised.