NHS chief hails new hospital handover

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construction of the new Royal Victoria Building at the Western General has been completed on time and on budget, it was announced today.

The keys for the £43.6 million building, which replaces the Royal Victoria Hospital in Craigleith Road, have been handed over to NHS Lothian by contractor Laing O’Rourke. The health board will now start fitting it out, ready for the first patients to arrive in June.

It is has been paid for using direct public funding from the Scottish Government and the progress of the project contrasts with that of the new Sick Kids hospital, which is due to be paid for using private funding. The replacement children’s hospital is already four years behind its original completion date, without a contractor being appointed.

Today’s news is likely to lead to renewed calls for the Sick Kids project to also receive public funding, amid concerns it is unlikely to hit the current proposed opening date of autumn 2016.

The old Royal Victoria site will be put on the market in the summer. The former day hospital, which suffered severe damage during recent storms, has already been demolished.

Health board chairman Charles Winstanley said: “This is a fantastic facility. I know that staff and patients are going to be as impressed with it as I am when they move in this summer.

“I am pleased to say that this building has arrived on time and on budget and that is largely due to the professionalism and hard work of the project team.

“The Royal Victoria Building is a first for Scotland and will provide only single rooms for elderly, rheumatology and dermatology patients to help improve privacy and dignity.”

The building was commissioned after a review of older people’s services in January 2002, and a later public consultation exercise.

Children from neighbouring St David’s Primary School sank a time capsule into a specially-created garden at the official handover.

The capsule contained copies of the contents of a 100-year-old capsule which was found in the foundation stone of the Paderewski building, which previously stood on the site.

Added to the new time capsule were items chosen to represent current healthcare, which it was thought might not be used in future – a hospital pager and a pair of false teeth. They were joined by a copy of the patient menu from the current hospital, a copy of a poem about elderly care called A Crabbit Old Woman and the response called A Nurse’s Reply.

There was also a copy of the NHS newsletter, Health Link, describing the finding of the original time capsule, a timeline in photos of the building works, stories and illustrations from local children, a copy of the planning decision, and illustrations of NHS uniforms.