Health Secretary tells Sick Kids staff: 'We won't pull down your new building'

HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has written to staff at Edinburgh's Sick Kids hospital assuring them there are "no plans whatsoever" to pull down the troubled new building.

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 11:05 am
The hospital was due to open in early July but the move was cancelled at short notice after problems were found in the ventilation system.

She thanked them for their patience following the decision in July to postpone the opening of the £150m hospital after problems were discovered with the ventilation system.

She gave no new date for opening the building at Little France but said work was continuing to migrate services to the new site "as soon as it is safe to do so".

And after criticisms from the union that staff were not told about the delay in moving to the new hospital before it was announced publicly, Ms Freeman said in her letter: "I want to provide personal assurance that when I have information on the next steps for the phased move, staff and patients will be the first to know."

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Jeane Freeman has written to staff thanking them for their patience and promising to keep them informed.

Ms Freeman has ordered reports on the hospital's water, ventilation and drainage systems as well as the governance of the project.

In her letter she said this work was now "well under way" and she expected a report this month which would "give me the facts on which I will base any future decision about a timetable for the move".

The letter, sent to staff yesterday, comes as Ms Freeman faces questions about the hospital in the Scottish Parliament as MSPs return from their summer recess.

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Demand for answers over Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital

An architect involved in the project told the Evening News problems were "built into" the new hospital because of political pressure to avoid further delays.

Another source close to the project revealed the basement of the hospital had been flooded twice due to drainage problems.

And an agency worker who worked on fitting fire detectors to the ventilation system voiced safety fears over alleged lack of checks on the work.

Tom Waterson, Unison rep for Edinburgh NHS staff, said last month he had grave concerns about the hospital after talks with senior NHS Lothian figures. And he claimed: "There is a school of thought that they might have to rip it down."

But Ms Freeman told staff: "Please let me assure you there are no plans whatsoever to 'pull down' the building and there is no evidence at all to support the claim that this would need to be done."

She added: "I know that the entire senior leadership team in NHS Lothian is working hard to resolve these matters. We will continue to work with the team to provide support where appropriate and to ensure that they have the capacity they need to both deliver continued standards of high quality patient care and plan for he safe transfer of services to the new site."