Leader: ‘This is the last thing that patients need’

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There is a touch of farce about the latest disruption which patients have faced at the Royal Infirmary.

It is not quite Monty Python’s ex-parrot, but there is certainly something almost darkly comical about a dead pigeon being responsible for cancelled operations at one of Scotland’s most modern hospitals.

But this is deadly serious. The last thing patients in the Lothians need right now is operations being needlessly cancelled.

Not when more than 7200 people are being left languishing on waiting lists because our hospitals cannot treat them quickly enough.

And it is not actually the dead pigeon that is responsible.

This would appear to be another maintenance failure by the private company being paid around £60 million a year in public money to run the hospital.

Granted, being slow to repair a roof and not spotting a dead animal lying in the attic space is not as serious as some previous problems, such as the power failure which forced surgeons to operate by torchlight. But the consequences are clear today.

The two scandals of the fiddling of waiting lists and the bullying of staff at NHS Lothian have naturally dominated attention in recent months.

But the problems associated with the private contractor Consort must not be forgotten.

As Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said in April, the company must “get its act together”.

If it fails to do that, there will be widespread support for publicly-funded legal action against the company, despite the inevitable cost involved.

Right royal dilemma

While it makes sense for Edinburgh City Council to look to name something after the Queen, to mark her 60 years on the throne, one wonders whether Her Majesty wishes the Capital’s councillors hadn’t bothered.

The obvious new development in the city is the trams – so how about the Jubilee Line from the airport to York Place? What an honour, she must be thinking.

This is what I want to be remembered for: cost overruns and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Something more fitting might be the new Sick Kids Hospital, which is planned for Little France.

Maybe if the Queen has her name attached to it there might be a chance of it opening before her platinum anniversary in 2022.

Otherwise, it looks like the new Forth crossing might be in the frame. Or has Alex Salmond already got his eye on that one?