Why did no-one spot spreadsheet error that led to halt on Edinburgh's Sick Kids hospital opening?
FAILURE to spot a crucial mistake in specifications for the new Sick Kids hospital have been labelled “staggering” after a new report blamed a copy-and-paste error in a 2012 spreadsheet for the opening of the new £150 million building being halted.
Auditors commissioned by NHS Lothian said the “environmental matrix” set the ventilation requirements for critical care at four air changes per hour instead of ten.
The report by Grant Thornton added: “This looks to be, based on our review, human error in copying across the four-bedded room generic ventilation criteria into the critical care room detail.” None of the contractors involved picked up on the mistake.
And although one of the firms bidding to build the hospital did identify the error and submit a corrected version of the spreadsheet in its bid, they did not win the contract and the team evaluating the bids did not notice the correction.
The Grant Thornton review concluded it was “not possible to identify one single event which resulted in the errors” but there had been a “collective failure”.
The opening of the hospital July last year was called off at the last minute after the ventilation issue was discovered.
Remedial work costing £16m is under way and a public inquiry has been set up.
Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “It is absolutely staggering that this mistake has had such huge repercussions and was not picked up until after the new hospital had been built.
“This review is highlighting how ill equipped health boards are for undertaking projects the magnitude of a new hospital.”
The review found that when a settlement was reached between NHS Lothian and IHSL, the private consortium delivering the project, in February 2019 that “cemented the error contractually” because the wrong air change requirement was written into the deal.
Another error in the matrix, the inclusion of en-suite bathrooms in critical care, was spotted in 2016 but the air changes mistake was not.
And an independent tester appointed by both sides also failed to identify the non-compliance.
The review made a series of recommendations about NHS Lothian strengthening its internal controls and decision-making.
NHS Lothian chief executive Calum Campbell said some recommendations had already been addressed. “Others will be implemented within the agreed timeframes to ensure that future capital projects will benefit.”
The Scottish Government said the public inquiry would make recommendations to ensure “any past mistakes are not repeated in future NHS infrastructure projects”.
Outpatient services have recently moved from the current Sick Kids at Sciennes to the new building at Little France. The hospital’s complete transfer was pencilled in for the autumn, but it is now under review due to Covid.
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