Running Edinburgh's old and new Sick Kids hospitals in tandem cost taxpayers £11.5m

The combined running costs for Edinburgh’s old and new Sick Kids hospitals totalled more than £11.5 million last year.
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The delay in opening the new building at Little France after the last-minute discovery that the ventilation was be not up to standard meant the old site at Sciennes had to continue in use for nearly two years longer than planned.

The running costs for the old hospital in 2020/21 were £4,241,825, roughly the same as for the previous five years, while the new hospital incurred running costs of £7,284,188.

The new Sick Kids hospital at Little France had running costs of over £7m in 2020/21The new Sick Kids hospital at Little France had running costs of over £7m in 2020/21
The new Sick Kids hospital at Little France had running costs of over £7m in 2020/21
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The previous year the new building had running costs of £3.5m even though the building was standing empty.

The figures were obtained under Freedom of Information legislation by Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs, who said it was a waste of taxpayers’ money having to run two hospitals at the same time.

He said: “These are huge chunks of money which the health board has been forced to spend on running two hospitals because of the delay with the new building.

“People understand that – patients need to have that reliable health service available – but this is a situation which should have been avoided.”

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He said former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman had promised NHS Lothian would not be out of pocket as a result of the double-running and he would be seeking an assurance that was the case.

"We should also be asking whether or not his will have an impact on other investment the health board would have made during that period.”

“These figures show the extent that repeated SNP minister blunders have cost the taxpayer.

“Serious questions have been raised about the ability of SNP Ministers to run large infrastructure projects, such as a new hospital, which we still need answers to.

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“NHS Lothian has a number of major projects over the next 10 years including a new Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and a new Cancer Centre for the South East of Scotland.

“We need to see real changes made to how these projects are run, so that we don’t see a repeat of the fiasco there was building a new Sick Kids hospital.”

The new hospital was due to open in July 2019 but services were only fully transferred from the old building in March 2021. A public inquiry is due to look into what went wrong with the project.

Susan Goldsmith, Director of Finance, NHS Lothian said: “While both hospitals were open in parallel, the additional running costs were covered in full by the Scottish Government and there was no financial impact to NHS Lothian.”

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And a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “In March 2021, the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian delivered on a project that has resulted in a safe hospital for the patients, families and staff of NHS Lothian.

"The costs arising from the significant work undertaken, including ensuring the compliance of the ventilation and other critical systems, were managed centrally by the Scottish Government with no adverse impact for NHS Lothian services.

“We will continue to engage with the Board around the finances of the project.”

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