Demand for answers over Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital

HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman will come under pressure over Edinburgh's troubled new Sick Kids Hospital when MSPs return to Holyrood tomorrow.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 5:37 pm
The opening of the new hospital was postponed indefinitely in July

Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has tabled a question which Ms Freeman is due to answer in the chamber tomorrow afternoon, asking when the Capital's Royal Hospital for Children and Young People will open.

The £150 million new building at Little France was due to open in early July, but Ms Freeman ordered the opening to be cancelled at short notice after it was found the ventilation system in the critical care unit did not meet national standards.

She also demanded further checks on other aspects of the building, particularly the water supply, ventilation and drainage.

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No date has been given for when the new hospital will now open its doors and replace the current Sick Kids in Sciennes.

But NHS Lothian is paying developers £1.4 million a month despite the building standing empty.

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Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "Because this is costing money every day and causing parents, children and staff uncertainty every day, the government needs to answer.

"It should be the first thing the government is looking at, given the massive white elephant this is turning out to be."

"I will be seeking to ascertain in my follow-up question exactly when the government knew there was a problem; who signed off the building, exposing us to untold fortunes of public money being wasted; and what the government now plans to do, both to remedy the situation and to ensure something like this never happens again."

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson called on Ms Freeman to make a ministerial statement to the Scottish Parliament as soon as possible.

The announcement that the opening of the hospital had been postponed indefinitely was made after MSPs had left for their summer break.

Mr Johnson said: "It's not good enough for the government to bury this in recess. This has such a major impact for the healthcare of children and indeed raises such major questions more generally about building hospitals in Scotland's NHS that we have to have a statement.

And he said the concerns went beyond the immediate issue of getting the new hospital open.

"There are wider questions here, especially given it was the same consortium that built the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and it had problems with its ventilation. I think there are much wider questions about how we are designing buildings and procuring hospitals."