In­quiry call as hos­pi­tal is de­layed by a year

● Free­man blames NHS Loth­ian er­rors ● Re­me­dial work alone set to cost £16m

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By IAN SWAN­SON

Ed­in­burgh’s new Sick Kids Hos­pi­tal will not open for an­other year, Health Sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man an­nounced, spark­ing calls for a pub­lic in­quiry into the de­ba­cle.

Ms Free­man told MSPS yes­ter­day the work re­quired would cost an ex­tra £16 mil­lion – which will be met by her de­part­ment – and the “dou­ble run­ning” of the current Sick Kids and the new build­ing at Lit­tle France was cost­ing be­tween £6m and £7m. That is on top of the £1.35m NHS Loth­ian has to pay ev­ery month to the con­sor­tium which built the hos­pi­tal.

Ed­in­burgh’s new Sick Kids Hos­pi­tal will not open for an­other year, Health Sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man has an­nounced.

An NHS in­ves­ti­ga­tion found fur­ther is­sues with ven­ti­la­tion, wa­ter and drainage sys­tems at the new £150 mil­lion hos­pi­tal in ad­di­tion to the ven­ti­la­tion prob­lem in the crit­i­cal care unit which led Ms Free­man to or­der a last­minute can­cel­la­tion of the planned open­ing sched­uled for July.

She told MSPS yes­ter­day the work re­quired would cost an ex­tra £16m – which will be met by her de­part­ment – and the “dou­ble run­ning” of the current Sick Kids and the new build­ing at Lit­tle France was cost­ing be­tween £6m and £7m. That is on top of the £1.35m NHS Loth­ian has to pay ev­ery month to the con­sor­tium which built the hos­pi­tal.

Ms Free­man also an­nounced the Scot­tish Govern­ment was send­ing in a se­nior pro­gramme di­rec­tor to NHS Loth­ian to take over the run­ning of the project un­til the build­ing is fully opened.

She told the par­lia­ment her over­rid­ing pri­or­ity was pa­tient safety.

She said: “The work will be car­ried out as quickly as pos­si­ble, but to en­sure it is done prop­erly and to give maximum cer­tainty to staff and pa­tients I have con­cluded that chil­dren’s ser­vices will re­main on the current site un­til next au­tumn.”

But she said the De­part­ment of Clin­i­cal Neu­ro­sciences, due to be trans­ferred to the new site from the West­ern Gen­eral, should move next spring.

Ms Free­man said a sep­a­rate re­port by con­sul­tants KPMG on gover­nance of the project set out “a clear picture of hu­man er­ror and con­fu­sion over in­ter­pre­ta­tion of stan­dards and guid­ance and missed op­por­tu­ni­ties to spot and rec­tify that er­ror”.

Ms free­man told msps :“this is a pub­licly funded project of strate­gic im­por­tance, which has not been de­liv­ered by NHS Loth­ian in com­pli­ance with the stan­dards and guid­ance. That is un­ac­cept­able. There are clearly is­sues to be con­sid­ered now about ac­count­abil­ity within the board.”

Loth­ian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs ac­cused Ms Free­man of try­ing to ab­solve SNP min­is­ters from re­spon­si­bil­ity for seven years of de­lay – the hos­pi­tal was orig­i­nally planned for 2012. And he said it looked like she intended to “hang NHS man­agers out for this prob­lem”.

Mr Briggs claimed staff and fam­i­lies would be scep­ti­cal about whether the hos­pi­tal re­ally would open next au­tumn. “They’ve been promised – year af­ter year – that new timescales will be ad­hered to, and they’ve been re­peat­edly let down.”

Labour health spokes­woman Mon­ica Len­non called for a full pub­lic in­quiry, but Ms Free­man said she did not see what dif­fer­ence an in­quiry would make.

The call for a pub­lic in­quiry was also echoed by Tom Water­son, branch chair for health union Uni­son. He said: “We need an in­quiry into this whole fi­asco to find out who knew what and when.”

0 The Royal Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren & Young Peo­ple at Lit­tle France was due to open in 2012. The De­part­ment of Clin­i­cal Neu­ro­sciences is ex­pected to move there in spring

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