Fresh delay for new Sick Kids Hospital with staff in the dark

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The opening of Edinburgh’s £150 million new Sick Kids Hospital is facing further delays after failing to meet the required standards.

An independent assessor has deemed the hospital is not up to scratch after failing to meet all the specifications with a number of issues still to be resolved.

Contractors were expected to hand over the building to NHS Lothian at the end of last month. But it is understood the project director emailed staff to say there was still no date for its completion and it would open only when ready.

It is the latest in a catalogue of setbacks for the facility, which was originally due to open in the winter of 2012.

A protracted land swap deal held up proceedings before other problems occurred including partner firms running into financial difficulties and poor winter weather further hindering building work, pushing back the opening date from May to the autumn.

The inspection comes months after a “severe flood” in the Little France facility after a domestic hot water pipe burst overnight. Despite this, project director Brian Currie said in June that the building remained on course for its autumn opening.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “The fact that the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children still does not meet specification is an absolute farce.

“Back in June, when the facility was flooded, we were told that the hospital was still due to be ready by the autumn.

“It is now the winter and we are no closer to knowing when the new hospital will be ready.

“The new hospital is already several years late and people have lost confidence in NHS Lothian’s promises of when it will be ready. Serious questions need to be asked about NHS Lothian’s process when hiring contractors for a new build.”

The demand for the new hospital has surged after young patients and their families have faced being transferred to the Sick Kids following the closure of the paediatric ward at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

NHS Lothian has said it is working with partners to ensure the outstanding work would be completed “as a matter of urgency”.

Deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: “The new building which will house the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Department of Clinical Neurosciences is nearing completion.

“The handover is subject to a satisfactory inspection by Arcadis UK the Independent Tester whose role is to determine whether the building meets the specification commissioned by NHS Lothian.

“Following their recent inspection the Independent Tester has now reported they are unable to sign off the building as complete, finding that it does not yet meet all the required specifications.

“We are naturally very disappointed and are liaising with our contractual partner IHSL ltd and their building contractors, Multiplex, to agree a timeline for completion of the outstanding works as a matter of urgency.

“Patients, their families and our staff can be assured of our determination to ensure delivery of the world class facility they deserve.”