The Scotsman

Sick Kids delay due to spreadshee­t blunder

● Mistake in £150m hospital’s critical care department design was made in 2012


A £150 million children’s hospital was delayed after a mistake in a spreadshee­t error was not amended, a rep or t has found.

The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh, the first NHS hospital to be built using the Scottish Govern men t’ s private financing model, was due to open in July last year.

But Scotland’s health secretary Jeane Freeman halted the move after final compliance checks showed that the ventilatio­n system in the critical care department did not meet the necessary standards.

Remedial work worth £16m has since been carried out.

Are view commission­ed by NHS Lothian found that an “environmen­tal matrix” spreadshee­t in 2012 wrongly stated the air change rate in critical care rooms should be four changes an hour, rather than ten.

A report said this appeared to be “human error in copying across the four-bedded room generic ventilatio­n criteria into the critical care room detail”.

The mistake was not corrected over the years and the report said the settlement signed by NHS Lothian in February last year “cemented the error contractua­lly”.

The hospital was built in a deal which over the next 25 years, including maintenanc­e and facilities management fees, will cost £432m.

The report, by auditors Grant Thornton, said: “Based on our review of the comments across each version of the matrix, no explicit concern was noted on the environmen­tal matrix recording that what was set out in the matrix for critical care was incorrect.

“This remained the case throughout the entire project.”

In its overall conclusion, the review said: “Our review identified a collective failure from the parties involved. It is not possible to identify one single event which resulted in the errors as there were several contributi­ng events.

“Additional­ly, there were a series of factors external to NHS Lothian which influenced and shaped the project which were not within the direct control of NHS Lothian. These factors contribute­d to the complexity.”

The report said a determinin­g factor in the project was the decision, taken in 2010, to have 20 four-bedded rooms.

It said three of these rooms were designed within critical care and therefore required different ventilatio­n to achieve ten air changes an hour, but “this was missed from the outset of the project and remained unidentifi­ed until June 2019”.

Calum Campbell, chief executive of NHS Lothian, said: “Recommenda­tions in relation to decision-making, clarity, clinical engagement and involvemen­t of external advisers have been made.”

Scottish Conservati­ve health spokesman Donald Cameron said :“It’ s a staggering revelation that a mistake on a spreadshee­t sparked a chain of events that results in the delayed opening of this major hospital.

“It is both astonishin­g and appalling in equal measure.

“It must be one of the most costly errors in the history of the NHS in Scotland.”

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