There is a classic Yes Minister episode where Jim Hacker finds out his department is running a hospital with no patients.
Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being ploughed into an essentially empty building save for an army of civil servants pushing paper around.
Sound familiar? It is, depressingly, not just the stuff of farce.
Late last week it emerged NHS Lothian has being paying around £1.4 million a month for the new (and empty) Sick Kids hospital to developers Integrated Health Solutions Lothian (IHSL). That’s the new building which has not opened as planned and is currently delayed until who knows when. There is mounting pressure on the Government now, and in particular Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. The opposition smell blood in yet another public building project fiasco, and you can only expect the political furore to grow.
Union leaders reckon there is even a chance the £150 million hospital will not open at all, suggesting it may have to be “ripped down”.
All this might even be funny if it was a 1980s sitcom. But it’s not. It’s a scandalous waste of public money, and a betrayal of the staff, patients and families of Edinburgh and the Lothians. And all the time the bill keeps going up. Not even the Yes Minister writers could dream up such a ludicrous plot.