Edinburgh's existing Sick Kids Hospital needs £700,000 of 'significant' maintenance

Ventilation and fire alarm systems among items needing work

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 7:45 am
The current Sick Kids Hospital in Sciennes is due to close next autumn when patients and staff are scheduled to move to the new Building at Little France

MORE than £700,000 worth of “significant” maintenance is required at Edinburgh’s existing Sick Kids hospital, where children are still being treated after the move to the new building was called off in the summer.

A list of items needing attention, released by NHS Lothian under freedom of information, includes work on the ventilation and fire alarm systems.

Lothian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “It’s probably not that surprising given it’s an old building they were meant to be out of by now. But the extent of the backlog of maintenance is really concerning and demonstrates a real need to get to the new hospital.”

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The move to the new building at Little France was halted at the last minute in July after the ventilation in critical care was found not to meet national standards. Further checks uncovered other problems and the £150m hospital is now scheduled to open in autumn next year.

The list of maintenance required identifies a total of £170,000 on ventilation - including £104,000 on “room split/chillers/compressors”, £40,000 on “chillers/cooling systems” sand £28,000 on “ventilation plant” - as well as £58,000 on “fire alarm wiring system”.

The total maintenance bill is £1.45m but £709,000 of the work is classed as “significant”.

Other items listed as “significant” include £70,000 on electrical wiring systems, £27,000 on water systems, £40,000 on the roof and £52,000 on windows and ironmongery.

Mr Briggs said he was seeking answers on what was being done to tackle the backlog.

“There are issues with the fire alarm system highlighted - I don’t see how they can get round that for a building which is currently being used.

“And it’s clear there is a significant amount of maintenance needed in the ventilation system - and given all the concerns about not going into the new one because the ventilation system there not being what it should have been, what is going on in the old hospital now?

“It’s probably throwing good money after bad - but while people are using it and patients are receiving treatment that building has to be absolutely fit for purpose.”

He said patients may only be in the current hospital for another a year. But he said: “It could be much longer. We’re working towards the eighth timeline now so we’ll take it with a pinch of salt. But what is key is patient and staff safety.”

George Curley, director of facilities at NHS Lothian, said a schedule of improvement and maintenance work was underway at the hospital.

“This will ensure patients continue to receive first-class care in a space which is both comfortable and welcoming, while we wait to move in to our new facility.

“Despite the environmental challenges of a Victorian building, initial verbal feedback from a recent Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) inspection, which will be published in January, highlighted outstanding patient care and cleanliness of the existing facilities.

“In addition to the HIS inspection, an external audit was also carried out by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). This highlighted a number of areas that could be improved and which have been included within the schedule of works. SFRS are happy with the timeline of work, as well as progress already made.

“The ventilation systems have also been reviewed in line with recent changes to national guidelines. Although this guidance does not apply to existing facilities, our review outlined maintenance and upgrades that would be required if it was to apply.”