THE opening of the Capital’s new children’s hospital has been hit with another delay of potentially six months.
The £150 million Royal Hospital for Children and Young People at Little France was initially due to open in July 2017 but after two further delays it was pushed back to May 2018 and will now not open until the Autumn of next year at the earliest. NHS Lothian chiefs have blamed unexpected initial delays on the site which included the liquidation of a sub-contractor and the weather.
Plans for the new hospital were drawn up ten years ago and it was supposed to be open by the winter of 2012, only to be held up by a protracted land swap deal.
Roslyn Neely, Chief Executive at the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, said the delay was “disappointing”.
She added: “It is such a major, complex and important project, the most important thing is to make sure everything is absolutely right.
“In the meantime we will continue planning our arts programme, new shop, volunteer services and all that we will be providing in the new hospital to make sure they are the very best they can be for children and young people and families once we open.
“Thanks to our supporters and fundraisers we’ve given over £3m and we will continue to fundraise to make this state-of-the-art building even more special for those who visit it.”
Jim Crombie, Deputy Chief Executive for NHS Lothian said they remained committed to delivering the hospital.
He added: “We established a contract with IHSL Limited in 2015 to build our world class children’s hospital and it was due to be completed in July 2017.
“Unfortunately we have suffered unexpected initial delays on site, which included the liquidation of a crucial sub-contractor, severe weather and issues surrounding piling works.
“We remain committed to delivering this flagship facility in a timely manner and to the highest of standards.
“We are working with the contractors to open the hospital as soon as possible and aim for moves to take place by autumn 2018.
“Our forensic work with IHSL and Multiplex will continue through regular meetings over the coming weeks.”
It is expected to take 16 weeks to move thousands of staff, patients and equipment to the site.
Shadow Health Secretary and Lothians MSP Miles Briggs slammed both NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government for the delays.
He added: “Families, parents and patients across the Lothians and eastern Scotland will be deeply disappointed and frustrated at this.
“This appears to be yet another delay to the opening of a vital new hospital facility, despite NHS Lothian guaranteeing that it would open this autumn.
“Families deserve answers and clarification from both NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government about the reasons behind this delay and I will again be seeking these on behalf of constituents.
“The SNP government’s handling of this whole project – which it claims is one of its flagship infrastructure investments – has been incredibly poor from the outset, having originally indicated a new hospital could be ready by the end of 2012.
“Since then we have seen delay after delay and this is unacceptable.”