A full inquiry into problems at key hospitals in Edinburgh and Glasgow has been announced by the Scottish Government.
The review was ordered amid the delayed opening of Edinburgh’s new Sick Kids Hospital and infection concerns at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) and the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
Last week, health secretary Jeane Freeman rejected calls for an investigation as she announced the long-awaited site in Edinburgh will not open for another year due to construction issues.
But she has now ordered a public inquiry following intense pressure, with the probe said to be aimed at preventing similar issues arising in future NHS projects.
It comes after NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed a “number of unusual infections” had meant some child cancer patients having to travel to NHS Grampian hospitals for treatment.
They had initially been moved from their usual ward in the Royal Hospital for Children to an adult ward in the adjacent QEUH due to infection risks.
However, the ward in Glasgow’s £850m super-hospital was also then closed due to infection concerns.
The health secretary confirmed the probe would be a statutory inquiry, which will give it powers to demand documents are produced and have individuals give evidence.
Freeman said: “The safety and well-being of all patients and their families is my top priority and should be the primary consideration in all NHS construction projects.
“I want to make sure this is the case for all future projects, which is why, following calls from affected parents, I am announcing a public inquiry to examine the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital sites.”
The health secretary added: “The current situation is not one anyone would choose – but it is one I am determined to resolve.”
Scottish Labour slammed Freeman, saying it should not have “taken weeks of pressure” for her to agree to demands for an inquiry.
Health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “A public inquiry is the only way to get to the bottom of this outrageous series of errors which has seriously disrupted patient care and cost taxpayers millions of pounds.
“It should not have taken weeks of pressure from Scottish Labour, patients and families for this to have been agreed to by the health secretary.
“Children in Scotland are being let down because the hospitals they were promised are not fit for purpose.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “This announcement is long overdue, and it’s only come about because the SNP hierarchy has become fed up of negative headlines.
“The ongoing problems at both hospitals are consequences of SNP negligence of the NHS which has gone on for more than a decade.
“It should not have taken the SNP 12 years in government to finally face up to its responsibilities on these matters.
“It is now vital that the public inquiry reports as soon as possible and considers the decisions taken around these projects by all four SNP health secretaries.”
Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The series of incidents at the Queen Elizabeth University hospital have been of the gravest magnitude, while the Sick Kids hospital has racked up bill after bill and delay and delay.
“Quite simply, we cannot have young patients being treated in facilities that are not up to scratch.”
He added: “Public trust in these projects must be urgently restored.”