Further delays to opening of new children’s hospital after more safety checks ordered
Full assessments of water, ventilation and drainage systems are being carried out at the new children’s hospital in Edinburgh after it emerged final safety checks in the critical care department failed to meet national standards.
A programme of inspections has been ordered at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP), with a full report not expected until September, meaning the opening of the site has been delayed indefinitely.
The new hospital was due to open on the Little France site on 9 July, but Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced just days before that the move would be delayed after it emerged the ventilation system within the critical care department did not meet national standards.
Now NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) will undertake a detailed assessment of compliance of all building systems which could impact on the safety of patients and staff at the new site.
NSS will also review current and recently completed major NHS capital projects and provide assurances that the same standards have been complied with.
To establish the factors that led to the delay, KPMG began an independent review of the governance arrangements for RHCYP on Monday.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I understand that this is a disappointing and worrying time for parents and carers of patients who have appointments at the new children’s hospital.
“However, safe, effective and high quality clinical services continue to be delivered from the existing site in Sciennes.
“The work carried out by NSS will give quality assurance on the water, ventilation and drainage systems and establish a timeframe for services to move safely to the new hospital.
“Infection prevention must always be embedded within the design, planning, construction and commissioning activities of all new and refurbished healthcare facilities, which is why I have also instructed NSS to review current and recently completed major NHS capital projects and provide assurances that the same standards have been adhered to.
“KPMG are also now on site independently reviewing the governance arrangements for the new children’s hospital to establish the factors that led to the delay.”
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, accused Freeman as being “asleep at the wheel” and described the situation as a “shambles”.
He said: “Patients and their parents will undoubtedly be exasperated by the news that the Sick Kids' opening is likely to face prolonged delays.
"Ultimately, oversight for this project rests with the Health Secretary, and on that, she has been asleep at the wheel.
“Hospital ventilation must meet the rigorous standards set out and ensuring medical facilities are safe is the absolute priority. But detailed assessments of the ventilation system should have identified these problems much sooner.
“The decision to involve KPMG displays the depth of the lack of confidence in contractors and those overseeing them. This is a shambles.”
Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said: “Patient and staff safety comes first but the lack of clarity over when the new Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital will be opened is completely unacceptable.
“Patients and staff who were due to move into the new building this month have been left in limbo, and Jeane Freeman hasn’t even indicated if the new hospital will be safe for use this year.
“Serious safety concerns about the condition of the building should have been raised well in advance of its opening, so it’s beyond belief that patients and staff find themselves in this situation.
“Jeane Freeman must get a grip on this latest NHS scandal and provide answers on how this was able to happen in the first place.”