Work to begin on new Sick Kids hospital

An artist's impression of the new Sick Kids hospital from above
An artist's impression of the new Sick Kids hospital from above
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A VISION of the new Sick Kids hospital has been revealed after health chiefs awarded the contract to build it.

Three companies – including scandal-hit Consort, which runs the ERI – were vying to design, build and maintain the new £150 million development at Little France.

But now Integrated Health Solutions Lothian, alongside builders Brookfield Multiplex Europe, has been named the preferred bidder, with construction due to get under way later this year.

The company is also currently working on an £842m “super hospital” set to open in Glasgow in January 2015 – one month ahead of schedule.

Susan Goldsmith, director of finance at NHS Lothian, said the move “marked a major milestone” for the project.

She said: “The development will prove significant in shaping the future of care by bringing children’s, maternity and adult services together on the same site.”

The state-of-the-art facility, set to open in 2017, will be built with private cash but, unlike the controversial ERI deal, the building will eventually pass into public hands.

Unison’s Davie Forbes said he remained cautious over the funding process, warning that the pitfalls of the Scottish Government-backed non-profit distributing model, known as the Scottish Futures Trust, were not yet known. He said: “It can’t be any worse than the disastrous contract for the ERI, but the jury’s out until we do get the details. I hope the Scottish Futures Trust is a better vehicle than PFI, but we still don’t know ultimately what it will produce in the long term.”

The Sick Kids Hospital was deemed unsuitable more than a decade ago and, under initial plans, a replacement had been expected to open in 2012.

Under the terms of the new contract, the building, which will also house NHS Lothian’s Department for Clinical Neurosciences and new facilities for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, will be passed directly to NHS Lothian after 28 years.

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack questioned the time it had taken to reach this stage, as well as the ability of the current building to last until the new facility was finished. She said: “We are still at least three years from having a new hospital and I am seeking assurances from the Scottish Government that further slippage will be avoided.”

Tory MSP and health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said he hoped it would put an end to “one of the longest running sagas in recent Scottish healthcare history”. He said; “The losers have been the patients and their families, but I’m pleased some progress appears to now be taking place.

“But let’s not forget this hospital should have been up and running by now, and there are still many potential bumps in the road.”