NHS buildings in Lothian to be checked after schools scandal

Work is underway to check healthcare facilities.
Work is underway to check healthcare facilities.
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HEALTH chiefs are drawing up a list of NHS buildings in Lothian for detailed inspection in the wake of the construction faults which forced the closure of 17 Edinburgh schools last year.

Thousands of pupils had their schooling disrupted last year following the discovery of structural problems in the schools - all built under a private finance initiative - after nine tons of bricks fell from a wall at Oxgangs Primary.

The independent Cole report on the scandal blamed poor construction and a lack of oversight.

And it added: “It would be naive to assume that the lack of quality control evidenced in the construction of the walls of the Edinburgh schools is limited to Edinburgh or to school buildings.”

The Royal Incorporation of Architects argued public buildings across Scotland should undergo urgent safety checks.

Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs tabled a written question in the Scottish Parliament, asking which NHS buildings had been identified as being at risk of defects similar to those identified in the schools and what action the Scottish Government was taking to ensure that all affected NHS buildings were made safe.

Health Secretary Shona Robison told him: “Health Boards in Scotland are in the process of planning and conducting inspections of healthcare facilities in response to the guidance produced by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) in response to the issue at the Edinburgh schools.

“At this point, there is no report of any NHS building being ‘at risk’.”

Ms Robison added: “It should be noted that inspections are precautionary in nature and the health facilities being inspected are all operational and timely survey work must be balanced against any disruption to essential service provision. This is particularly challenging for health facilities as intrusive surveys would often require a ward or facility to be closed.”

Mr Briggs said he was concerned about the condition of the NHS estate as a whole. “We know some older buildings are no longer fit for purpose and now we need to think about newer buildings as well. The government needs to look at a full review of the NHS estate.”

The SFT has issued guidelines on which buildings should be checked. They include buildings from the late 1990s to mid-2000s constructed predominantly of brick and/or blockwork and buildings with large expanses of masonry walls of two or more storeys.

George Curley, operations director for NHS Lothian, said: “When the Edinburgh schools situation came to light we took immediate action to review buildings constructed under similar arrangements to provide additional assurance.

“We are currently working with Health Facilities Scotland on analysing the Cole Report, to identify properties that fall within the criteria which would require more detailed surveys.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com