NHS Lothian urged not to rule out legal action over Sick Kids as contractors taken to court over Glasgow hospital

Multiplex to be sued over problems at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 6:00 am
The new Sick Kids hospital was due to open in July but is now scheduled to welcome its first patients in autumn next year
The new Sick Kids hospital was due to open in July but is now scheduled to welcome its first patients in autumn next year

THE construction firm behind Edinburgh's troubled new Sick Kids Hospital are being taken to court by health bosses over failings at the Glasgow hospital which they also built.

And today NHS Lothian was urged not to rule out a similar move.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has launched legal action against Brookfield Multiplex, who were responsible for the design and construction of the £575m Queen Elizabeth University Hospital as well as the Capital's new children's hospital.

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The Glasgow-based health board has instructed lawyers to to prepare action against the contractor "as a matter of urgency" amid infection concerns and in the wake of children dying in the hospital.

In Edinburgh, the opening of the new £150m building at Little France was cancelled at the last minute in July after it was found the ventilation in critical care was not up to nationally required standards. Further checks revealed a series of other problems with water supply, ventilation, drainage, electrical and fire safety systems. The hospital is now scheduled to open in autumn next year and a public inquiry has been ordered into what went wrong.

Lothian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said NHS Lothian should not rule out legal action against the contractors.

He said: “If Multiplex have failed to deliver on their contract of building a safe new hospital, which there is a strong argument for, then NHS Lothian should not be ruling out legal action.

“SNP Ministers have shown a total inability to effectively manage the contracts for the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and it is a travesty that we are in the position that we are.

“Millions of pounds that could have been gone into lifesaving treatments and reducing waiting times is being lost every month because of this fiasco.”

And Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Lib Dem health spokesman, also urged NHS Lothian to look at possible action.

He said: "Our hospitals are the the most almighty mess and the fact Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board are suing Multiplex will come as cold comfort to the families who have lost loved ones.

"It is right that people are held to account when something goes so catastrophically wrong. I hope that health board lawyers in Lothian are scrutinising every aspect of the Sock Kids building to see if there are any grounds for action."

However Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar argued health bosses had to take major responsibility for the problems at Queen Elizabeth University hospital.

He said: “This hospital was commissioned by the health board, the building was overseen by the health board, it was signed off by the health board despite warnings about the high risk of infection, it was opened by the health board, and the infections scandal was subsequently covered up by the health board.

“If senior managers are now accepting there were problems with the hospital, who is going to take responsibility for opening it and putting patients at risk?

“At the heart of this scandal is not a contractual arrangement, but a catalogue of failings and a cover-up by hospital managers which led to a child losing their life.”

Although Multiplex were the construction firm involved in the Sick Kids, NHS Lothian's direct contract for the hospital was with a consortium, Integrated Health Solutions Lothian (IHSL), which included Multiplex.

Susan Goldsmith, NHS Lothian director of finance, said: “We are currently working with IHSL, our contractual partner for the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, to ensure that all the required work is undertaken within the agreed timelines which were announced by the Health Secretary earlier this year.”