Leaders: ‘Sense of relief that deal has been agreed’

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THERE are no surprises, pleasant or otherwise, in Health Minister Alex Neil’s announcement today that work will soon begin on the building of a new Sick Kids hospital.

For months, only the ridiculously convoluted negotiations with Consort, the ERI’s private finance partners, over the land needed to build on were holding up the desperately-needed project.

Once that hurdle was overcome, there was nothing left in its way, as this newspaper reported last month.

So the main feeling that today’s official confirmation brings is a sense of relief that no hidden problems have emerged to further delay work beyond 2017.

The Sick Kids is highly valued, not just in Edinburgh, but by families across Scotland who have benefitted from its first-class care. All those who have passed through its doors will appreciate the fact that it will finally have a home of a standard to match the outstanding work of its medics.

At the same time, there is disappointment that the health board will have to enter into another private finance deal to deliver this vital facility, unlike its counterpart in Glasgow, which received full public funding for its new Sick Kids hospital.

There is also regret that it is already way behind schedule before a brick has been laid following wrangles over its funding and the painfully slow negotiations with Consort.

There are two major consolations, though, when it comes to the deal forced on the health board.

Firstly, when we finally finish paying for this new hospital, perhaps in 2042, we won’t find ourselves in the same mess as happened at the ERI. This hospital will stay in public hands rather than remain the property of private investors.

And secondly, with a bit of luck the Sick Kids will never have to negotiate another deal with Consort again.

Pool position

The community fight to save the Waterworld swimming pool is not yet dead in the water.

We report today how Splashback is likely to be given another three months to convince the city council it can make a go of the facility.

The local authority cannot be expected to subsidise an underused facility which will merely be a drain on the public purse for years to come.

But if there is the chance to make the numbers add-up, then reopening the pool has to be the best result for all concerned.

Sir Tom Farmer certainly thinks this is a possibility and rightly points to the need to capitalise on the success of the Olympics and Paralympics.

The intervention of someone of his stature should not be ignored and we wish the campaigners well.