Six Lothian hospitals deemed ‘high risk’ over urgent repairs

Liberton Hospital. Picture; Lisa Ferguson
Liberton Hospital. Picture; Lisa Ferguson
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SIX Lothian hospitals including the Royal Edinburgh and St John’s Hospital in Livingston have been named as ‘high risk’ when it comes to the need for urgent repairs.

The Liberton Hospital, Astley Ainslie and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children also came out as needing urgent repairs, according to new data.

St Johns Hospital, Livingston

St Johns Hospital, Livingston

It comes after previous figures revealed NHS buildings in Scotland require nearly £900 million of maintenance.

The research, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, highlighted roof and window infrastructure at St John’s Hospital as “nearing the end of its useful life”, also noting the need roof and cladding upgrades at Liberton Hospital.Roodlands Hospital in Haddington, East Lothian, was also classed as high risk.

Shadow health secretary and Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said the findings showed NHS buildings across Scotland were in a “desperate state”.

He said: “The Scottish Government can’t simply brush these off as disused or administrative facilities. They quite clearly include maternity hospitals, mental health facilities and paediatric units.

“This will be of concern to both patients and staff, who at the very least deserve to work in a safe and comfortable environment.

“There are real question marks hanging over the life expectancy of some of our NHS buildings. The SNP is in sole charge of health, yet in almost a decade has let this completely spiral out of control.”

The data sets out a number of reasons why somewhere might be considered high risk, including issues with boilers and water systems, electrical issues, legionella, asbestos and fire safety.

Dave Watson, head of policy and public affairs at Unison Scotland, said a maintenance issue being ‘high risk’ did not immediately translate into either patients or staff being put in danger.

However Mr Watson said it was clear investment was needed, but that tightening budgets made this difficult.

He said: “The budgets are under pressure for a number of other reasons, so the good years when you have that money to spend become fewer and fewer.

“If you don’t spend the money when you should do then the problem just gets worse and the bill gets larger.

“We simply need to recognise we need to allocate proper budgets to address these issues. £900 million won’t be allocated overnight but it does require some serious money put into it.”

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said the list of hospitals in need of repair was “far too long”.

He said: “It is a list which includes hospitals with maternity and paediatric units. This is unacceptable.

“While many facilities in the Lothians are in the process of moving or being refurbished, the issues raised around St John’s Hospital in Livingston are particularly concerning.

“Unfortunately this is just yet another problem for our health service in Scotland after a decade of SNP mismanagement. It’s about time Nicola Sturgeon got back to the day job and started fixing our NHS.”

However health secretary Shona Robison said the government was committed to improving the quality of the NHS estate, saying it would invest £1.2 billion over the next three years.

She said: “Backlog maintenance has reduced by over £110 million between 2011 and 2016, with the majority of the backlog being in either buildings in non-clinical parts of the estate or not being in use.

“Over the past five years we have invested around £1 billion to deliver two of the largest acute hospitals ever built in Scotland.

“This along with work underway in Dumfries and Edinburgh, is transforming the way healthcare is delivered in Scotland, while also ensuring we provide the facilities and the capacity needed in our NHS for the future.”

Jim Crombie, NHS Lothian deputy chief executive, said: “Ensuring patients have access to good facilities is one of our key priorities – not only do we prioritise patient areas when carrying out maintenance work, we have ambitious plans to redevelop and reinvigorate our estate.

“We have closed the Royal Victoria Hospital and moved services into new, modern buildings, we are redeveloping the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and our plans to re-provide facilities at the Edinburgh Eye Pavilion are moving forward.

“Our development of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital are also at an advanced stage – once finished, this will provide significant elements of services currently provided at Astley Ainsley.

“In addition we have created a business case for more investment in the Western General Hospital, including the refurbishment of the Cancer Centre.”