‘The health board is right to up the ante’

The latest twist in the saga over the building of Edinburgh’s new Sick Kids Hospital is deeply worrying.

The threat to abandon building the state-of-the-art hospital at Little France may well be seen as a political move by NHS Lothian in what has been branded “a complex game of chess”.

Yet another delay to the hospital opening is bad enough, but the very fact that such a critical and long-planned project is in the position where a plan B is even being talked about is unbelievable.

Of course the blame will be put fairly and squarely at the door of those involved in the PFI deal to build the new ERI in the first place. Readers will need no reminding of the flaws in the arrangement which has led to increasingly public spats between the health board and Consort, the private firm which runs the hospital. The situation with the Sick Kids only serves to highlight the ongoing problems of such a bad deal for the taxpayer.

The truth is that the pawns in this game of chess are the staff and patients at the current Sick Kids – a building which has served the Capital well but is now woefully unfit for purpose.

It is crucial that a resolution is found quickly if Edinburgh is finally to get the world-class facilities it deserves and the health board is absolutely right to up the ante by choosing to re-examine all the options.

Of course there are no end of problems associated with the hospital remaining in Sciennes. It would take a prohibitive amount of investment to bring the building up to a standard which would still fall short of the promised new-build development. And there would clearly be major question marks again over where exactly the money would come from in the first place.

We would hope such questions will never need to be answered. Instead, this move should put Consort and its bank on red alert. They should be in no doubt that the clock is ticking on their game of chess.

Hot and bothered


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Dust down the barbecue and dig out the sun cream. If the forecasters are right, Edinburgh is set for a ten-day heatwave where the Capital will be basking in temperatures higher than in Istanbul.

Not before time, you might say, after the wettest April on record. But as we all prepare to enjoy the hot spell spare a thought for those who will be praying for a drop in the mercury at the weekend. When it comes to the Edinburgh Marathon, sitting watching with an ice cream is definitely the way to go.