A solicitor representing five families whose children contracted infections in the same Glasgow cancer ward said a public inquiry was the only way to “really get to the bottom of what’s gone wrong”.

Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, said the parents of children who have contracted bugs during treatment at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, were glad the crisis would now face legal scrutiny.

It comes after Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced that a joint public inquiry would be held into the building of the QEUH campus in Glasgow and the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh (RHCYP), which have both been blighted by ventilation design faults.

READ MORE: Public inquiry into building flaws at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital announced

Remedial work means the RHCYP will not open until autumn 2020 - more than three years late - while the QEUH campus has battled dozens of infections among cancer patients which have forced wards to close. The Crown Office is also probing the deaths of two QEUH cancer patients, aged 10 and 73, who contracted infections linked to pigeon droppings.

Yesterday, Ms Freeman told MSPs that the public inquiry would examine “deficiencies in ventilation and other key systems” at both hospitals, and “how and when” these occurred.

She said it would be fully independent and chaired by someone with “at least a legal background”, but could not give a timetable for when it will begin.

Mr McGuire said: “Only a full public inquiry can really get to the bottom of what’s gone wrong and make sure it never happens again. There’s obviously been huge damage done in terms of trust between the families of sick children and the health authorities and the parents have shown huge courage in driving this issue to the top of the political agenda.”

Repeatedly MSPs said the inquiry must “understand what happened with these buildings” and “prevent it happening again”.

READ MORE: Health Secretary to meet cancer kids’ parents over Glasgow hospital fears

Cynics might say we have been here before. The Holyrood Inquiry into the construction of the Scottish Parliament - which was completed three years late for £431 million, compared to an original £40m estimate - concluded in 2004 that civil servants and politicians “ignored” risk assessments on cost.

A decade later, Edinburgh Trams were delivered three years late and £400m over-budget for a shortened route. The public inquiry has yet to report its findings, but key evidence heard that council officers realised the contract with Bilfinger Berger contained a risk of cost escalations but did not warn councillors, who believed they were approving a fixed-price contract.

The NHS itself has a long history of public inquiries, dating back to 1967’s probe into allegations of abuse at Ely psychiatric hospital in Cardiff.

Martin Powell, a professor of health and social policy at Birmingham University who has researched common themes and outcomes from hospital inquiries over the past 50 years said they “often seem to have similar findings, and make the same or similar recommendations repeatedly.”.

The need to protect whistleblowers from victimisation was raised in the Ely inquiry but has persisted in numerous health scandals ever since.

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar told the Scottish Parliament that whistleblowers at the QEUH were “intimidated, bullied and silenced” at the QEUH, leading to the resignation of two infection control experts.

Prof Powell added that we also “pay too little attention to what happens after an inquiry has reported”.

Both facilities in Scotland were designed and built by Brookfield Multiplex based on specifications provided by the health boards.

A spokesman said it would be “happy to cooperate” with the inquiry.

Other key witnesses are likely to include NHS Lothian’s chief executive Tim Davison, who has been in post since 2012 - before construction on the hospital project began - and Robert Calderwood, chief executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde from 2009 to 2017.

Architects, engineers and former or current SNP health secretaries who have overseen the projects - Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Neil, Shona Robison and Jeane Freeman - could also be called.