NICOLA Sturgeon has given her support to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman amid a growing scandal around two major Scottish hospitals.

The Scottish Tories launched an attack on Freeman last week following accusations she “covered up” the death of 10-year-old Milly Main at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Milly’s mother says she is “100%” sure it was due to contaminated water, which led to two wards on the hospital campus being closed more than 12 months later.

The Health Secretary admitted on Friday that she knew about Milly’s death after her mother, Kimberly Darroch, contacted her two days after she announced plans to hold a public inquiry into the hospital and the delayed Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh, which was supposed to open in Edinburgh over the summer.

Freeman told the BBC she did not feel the matter should be a public one.

The First Minister has now come out in support of her Health Secretary.

Sturgeon said: “Firstly, my thoughts and condolences are with the family of the little girl, but the Scottish Government all along has been determined that any questions, any issues, that are required to be addressed will be fully and openly addressed.

“That’s why the Health Secretary – who does have my support – has ordered a public inquiry.”

It comes after the Health Secretary appeared in front of the Health and Sport Committee yesterday, where she said she hoped a lead person for the public inquiry would be announced by Christmas.

During a campaign visit to Stirling yesterday, Sturgeon added: “She was before the Health Committee in the Scottish Parliament this morning setting out our hope and expectation that the chair of that public inquiry will be appointed before the Christmas recess so that it can get on with its work to make sure there is confidence in children’s hospitals and the children’s services they provide.”

At the committee, Freeman said: “In terms of the inquiry, we are in the process of finalising who will lead that, with the support of the Lord Advocate and the Lord President. I hope to be able to announce who will lead the inquiry before we get to the Christmas recess.”

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Freeman is also due to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament about the Glasgow hospital today.

Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar, who was contacted by a whistle-blower from the hospital last week, said he hoped Milly’s family would learn the truth from the statement.

In a letter to Freeman ahead of her speech, Sarwar called for families to be told the truth, as well as for protection for the whistle-blower, and direct government intervention in the health board to investigate the issues.

He wrote: “I understand that you will be making a statement in the parliament this week.

“I know that Milly’s family, NHS staff and all interested parties would appreciate this course of action.

“As I have said to you previously, if you can make the commitments above and take the necessary tough action with the health board, then you will have my support.”

Freeman has refused to rule out putting NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde into special measures, which would see the Scottish Government take a more direct role in its management.