Health Minister accused of 'backtracking' over inspection of Edinburgh's current Sick Kids Hospital

HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has been accused of backtracking on her pledge to carry out an urgent inspection of the Capital’s existing Sick Kids hospital to make sure the premises and equipment are up to scratch.

Thursday, 10th October 2019, 6:00 am
The existing Sick Kids Hospital at Sciennes was due to close in July but is now due to remain in use until autumn next year.

In a letter to Tory health spokesman and Lothian MSP Miles Briggs, she said she had met staff who had “raised concerns regarding the appropriateness and timing” of such an inspection.

But Mr Briggs said: “It is vital the Royal Hospital for Sick children at Sciennes if fully up to standard, especially as there are no guarantees that the new hospital site at Little France will be operational by next autumn.”

The £150m hospital was due to open in July but the transfer was called of at the last minute after problems were discovered with the ventilation system. Its opening has now been put off for a further year.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman promised last month that urgent inspections would be carried out at the current hospital.

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

And he called for urgent inspections of both places since they would now be in use for another 12 months.

Ms Freeman intervened to say: “Can I just confirm that I will exactly do that?” She said she was due to meet staff at both hospitals. “They will have the opportunity to raise concerns but we will also address the ones you have raised.”

Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs says Ms Freeman appears to have gone back on her commitment.

But in her reply Ms Freeman says: “Following the debate, I met with Staff at both Royal Hospital Sick Children and the Department of Clinical Neurosciences where clinicians raised concerns regarding the appropriateness and timing of an urgent inspection and report from Health Improvement Scotland. I am committed to ensuring that the involvement of HIS is supportive and addresses concerns effectively and appropriately.”

Mr Briggs said: “I am very concerned that the Health Secretary appears to have gone back on her commitment to undertake an urgent inspection at the current Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

“Given the concerns raised about the standards of equipment in the old hospital it is crucial an inspection is urgently carried out to document what work is needed.”