‘Cock-ups like this diminish public faith’

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OUR revelation about faulty fire alarms in the operating theatres at the Royal Infirmary will concern anyone who works or is treated there.

The fire service constantly reminds us all that a working alarm can save lives in every home, so it seems bizarre that parts of the city’s biggest hospital have been left vulnerable.

It is all the more bizarre that the fault was noticed some ten days ago but wasn’t reported, let alone made public.

While we can accept the contractor’s claim that staff were deployed to make sure no fire broke out, it seems common sense that the high-tech sensitive systems which were put in place when the £180 million hospital was built would be safer – and that they should be working.

Of course this is by no means the first problem that’s been found since the ERI was built at Little France using PFI. Last month the News revealed that hundreds of staff had not been put through criminal checks by contractor Consort.

This newspaper has never had an ideological problem with private finance for public projects. Without PFI hundreds of schools and hospitals would not have been replaced.

But cock-ups like this by private contractors diminish public faith not just in the funding method but the health service itself.

Just say no

THERE will be mixed feelings about the outcome of negotiations which will see the Occupy Edinburgh protesters make a swift exit from the Meadows.

On one hand, the fact that the campers are moving on so quickly, before any real damage can be done to one of the city’s most popular green places, is to be welcomed.

The News called for the eviction of the larger number of protesters from St Andrew Square after it became an eyesore and we were pleased to see them go. We were no happier to see them pitch up at the Meadows.

But today’s satisfaction at their departure is considerably diminished by the concessions made by the city council to persuade the Occupy camp to leave.

In return they will get access to council buildings for meetings and have been promised access to photocopiers and other assistance – all presumably at the public expense.

It is difficult to see what this ragtag bunch have done to deserve it, other than spout some lame claptrap about being against “the system”.

We are told they have also been encouraged to apply for council grants. They can apply all they want, but the answer must be a refusal, polite or otherwise.