MSPs quiz Health Secretary on Edinburgh's current Sick Kids Hospital

£700,000 maintenance bill sparks questions on ventilation system

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 6:00 am
The current hospital was due to close in July but will now remain in use until next autumn
The current hospital was due to close in July but will now remain in use until next autumn

HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has been quizzed by MSPs over what she is doing to ensure the existing Sick Kids Hospital is fit for purpose after the Evening News revealed the building requires £700,000 of “significant” maintenance.

Details released under freedom of information showed items needing attention included ventilation and fire alarm systems.

The hospital in Sciennes will remain in use until next autumn after the move to the new £150m building at Little France, due last July, was delayed at the last minute when ventilation in critical care was found not to meet national standards.

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Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson told fellow MSPs: “Anyone who has spent any time at the old Sick Kids building does not need an answer to a freedom of information request to tell them that maintenance on the building is overdue. While my daughter was there, the members of one medical team were one and a half hours late for their daily ward round because the ceiling had fallen in on their meeting room. The sad truth is that the old site had been allowed to deteriorate on the promise of a new building—a promise that has still to be met.”

Ms Freeman said the £700,000 was part of the estimated £16.1m bill for work at the new and old sites which she had already told MSPs about.

She said work had been under way to increase the footprint of the emergency department and its waiting area, to move out-patients and to repair the ceiling Mr Johnson had mentioned.

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

In reply to a question from Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs on ventilation she confirmed new national guidelines did not apply to existing sites.

But she said NHS Lothian had reviewed the systems at both the current Sick Kids and the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Western General - which is also due to move to Little France - and they continued to be safe.

She added: “Some upgrading work might be needed because it will be necessary to use those systems for longer than was originally planned.”

Mr Briggs said afterwards it was “absolutely critical” that the necessary maintenance work was carried out as soon as possible to ensure patient safety.

“It is very concerning that the Health Secretary does not know if the ventilation systems at the current hospital is up to required standards, especially as this was the main reason why the new hospital’s opening has been delayed.”