Edinburgh's new Sick Kids hospital could be delayed again, claims MSP

"Cost of remedial work soaring because contractors didn't want the job"

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 6:01 pm
The new hospital was due to open last July but last-minute checks found the ventilation in critical care was not up to standard

THE cost of remedial work at Edinburgh’s new Sick Kids hospital is “soaring” because contractors have been reluctant to take on the liabilities involved, an MSP has claimed.

Tory Michelle Ballantyne said the problem also made it unlikely the hospital would open as scheduled in the autumn.

She raised the issue at the Scottish Parliament, asking a question in the chamber about what progress was being made in resolving the issues which delayed the opening of the hospital in July last year.

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Health Secretary Jeane Freeman insisted work was on track for the new opening date of autumn this year

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman ordered the delay after last-minute checks revealed the ventilation in critical care areas did not meet the required standard. She commissioned further checks which uncovered a series of other problems.

As a result, the current Sick Kids site at Sciennes is having to remain in operation, as is the Department of Clinical Neuroscience (DCN) at the Western General, which was due to move to the same site at Little France.

Ms Ballantyne asked: “Can the Cabinet Secretary confirm that because the building contract was signed off when it was handed over the original contractors and others that have been approached are not willing to take on the work as they would become liable for both the building and the warranties and as a result the cost of sorting out this mess is now soaring?”

Ms Freeman said the work was under way to ensure the site was safe and fit for purpose.

She told MSPs it was on track for the DCN to move in spring this year and the Sick Kids in the autumn.

She said: “All actions relating to medical gases and drainage are now complete. Good progress is being made on ventilation, electrical issues, fire safety and water.”

The cost of the remedial works and double-running until the new building can open has been estimated at £16 million.

Afterwards Ms Ballantyne, who used to work for the chief executive of the then NHS Lothian acute hospital trust when the Royal Infirmary was built, told the Evening News: “I think there is a need to focus on sorting out DCN because there are risks involved in leaving it at its current site and the risks of moving it to an empty building may well be lower than at the Western General.

“However, things would gave to move on significantly for the Health Secretary’s claim that the hospital will be open this ear to come to fruition.

“I am extremely concerned about what this bill is going to end up costing and the lack of due diligence over taxpayers’ money shown by this government.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “NHS Lothian have now identified a qualified and appropriate contractor to undertake the remedial works necessary to resolve the identified issues.”

He said the estimated costs remained at £16m.

And he added: “We are continuing our work to deliver the new hospital in the timelines set out, and look forward to it opening as soon as is safely possible.”

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Edinburgh's new Sick Kids Hospital won't open till autumn 2020