Who will meet the cost of the delay to Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital?

There is speculation it could be a whole year before the hospital opens
There is speculation it could be a whole year before the hospital opens
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An MSP is demanding to know who will pick up the bill for the indefinite delay in opening Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital.

Tory frontbencher Michelle Ballantyne said in addition to whatever additional work needs to be done on the new hospital to bring it up to standard, there were also financial implications from double-running of the old and new buildings.

And she said she would be “absolutely horrified” if taxpayers had to meet the cost.

The replacement for the Capital’s Sick Kids Hospital was due to open earlier this month, but it was announced just hours before the move from the current building was due to start that it had been put off because the ventilation system in the critical care unit did not meet national standards.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman overruled a plan by NHS Lothian to go ahead with the opening and find a “work around” for the ventilation problem.

And last week she announced more checks were needed on the building, focusing first on the ventilation, water and drainage systems.

A full report on the checks is not expected until September and there has been speculation that by the time the necessary corrective work has been commissioned and carried out it could be this time next year before the hospital opens.

Ms Ballantyne said: “The government has quite a big problem now. Having not opened the new building, they will be funding both of them.

“The build cost was due to have finished and the hospital opened on July 9, but now it’s running on - and they’re also having to run the old hospital, which they weren’t expecting to do, so there is a bill to be picked up.

“And presumably there are huge potential changes and repairs to the new hospital which was supposed to have been finished.

“So the question now is who is picking up that bill. Does the contract mean the contractors have to resolve all this at no extra cost or is the cost going to rebound back to the taxpayer?”

She said questions should be asked about any contract which did not protect the public from failure “because ultimately all of us pay for it”.

She said: “If you’re commissioning a building to save lives you have to make sure of the basis on which you commission that - you have to be very clear about the spec and what you want; someone has to be taking responsibility for it; and the timetable for delivery and picking up any overrun costs has to be clear.”

She said the problems with the new hospital clearly went beyond the teething problems and incidental faults found in any new building.

“This is a bit more than snagging. I would be absolutely horrified if the cost of all this was coming back to the taxpayer.”

NHS Lothian said it could not comment at this stage on the cost of the delay or who would have to pick up the bill.

And a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Until it is clear what costs there will be it isn’t possible to say who will meet them.”