Sick Kids delay is unacceptable – Daniel Johnson MSP
I know how important the Sick Kids Hospital is for residents here in Edinburgh. I know because I spent months there with one of my daughters when she was born. The job they did was fantastic and they supported me and my family through a really tough time in our lives. My experience, though, showed me the urgent need for a new building.
The current historic building is simply not fit for purpose – corridors too narrow for trolleys and collapsing ceilings were just two examples I saw of a building past its sell by date.
That’s why this latest indefinite delay announced at the beginning of July is completely unacceptable.
The new Sick Kids isn’t just about a nice shiny building. It is an urgent replacement for a vital service for our children in this city and beyond.
All of the issues that have affected the progress of the new building throughout 2018, with flooding in the basement and water cascading down stairs from a cracked pipe, have already done damage that needed to be repaired. The fact that a new building has had to be repaired before anyone has even used it is shocking in and of itself.
The latest indefinite delay is due to a fault in the ventilation system. It doesn’t meet the required standards. This project is based on the beleaguered Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where ventilation issues were identified at the start of 2019.
Those in overall charge of the project here in Edinburgh – NHS Lothian and the Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman – should have made sure that those types of issues were taken care of. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, then you are doomed to repeat them.
While the review that has been announced, designed to address the issues for the latest delay, is of course welcome, there are serious questions that need to be answered.
This is the third major delay to the project. A project where unorthodox payments have been made to the contractor, who was also used to construct the Queen Elizabeth.
I also find it hard to believe the Scottish Government were only made aware of the troubles with the ventilation system a matter of days before the planned opening. With a problem that serious, surely red flags were waved before then?
Yet, the fact is that this SNP Scottish Government has been failing our NHS for some time now. The new building is just another example of inadequate management.
Everyone knows the problems we are facing in waiting times and social care. Some people are either waiting months and even years to have an operation and others are stuck on hospital wards, ready for discharge and desperate to leave. The Cabinet Secretary is fond of reporting to parliament that this government is taking a firm hand in dealing with the issues affecting our NHS. Those problems, though, have been evident for far too long now, with no real sign of improvement in sight.
We can only wait and see if there will be any further problems to be addressed with the new Sick Kids.
I hope not, but no one should be holding their breath.
Daniel Johnson is the Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern.