Work on Edinburgh’s delayed children’s hospital will be completed in full in January, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.
She said there was now a “confirmed timeline” that the work would be done by January 25 2021.
It comes after a report last month revealed a mistake in a spreadsheet several years ago contributed to the delay in the opening of the new hospital.
The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh was due to open in July 2019, but Ms Freeman halted the move from the existing site after final compliance checks revealed the ventilation system within the critical care department of the new building did not meet the necessary standards.
A review commissioned for NHS Lothian found a spreadsheet in 2012 incorrectly stated air change rate in critical care rooms should be four changes per hour, rather than 10 – with “human error” blamed for this.
Ms Freeman had warned MSPs in may that the coronavirus pandemic “may adversely affect the timeline of Autumn 2020 for fully opening the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People”.
The Health Secretary stated: “We now have a confirmed timeline that work will be completed in full on January 25, 2021.”
She said a number of children’s outpatient services had now moved to the new hospital” site in Little France in Edinburgh, with neurology and orthopaedics services now based there, along with a number of administrative support staff.
Ms Freeman said: “Despite the impact of Covid-19, positive progress has been made with the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, including Neurophysiology and Diagnostic Radiology, moving in May as promised and the majority of outpatient services moving in early July.
“We now have a confirmed date for safe completion of the final areas of the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People of January 2021.
“This is good news and I am very grateful to everyone for all of their work. This final move, like the earlier ones, will be planned with the full involvement of staff and communicated clearly to patients and families.”
Susan Goldsmith, NHS Lothian finance director and executive lead for the new hospital project, said: “Despite the challenges that Covid-19 has presented us with, the teams have done an incredible job in continuing to drive this project forward.
“I am delighted to have received a date by which the building works will be completed.”
Ms Goldsmith added: “Planning for a move is always an exciting time, and this is no exception. Having seen colleagues within Children’s Outpatient Services move to the new building in July this year, those who remained at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Sciennes, and those who work in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, have undoubtedly been eager to find out when they too will migrate.
“I know I am not alone, in looking forward to seeing all of our Children’s Services together in the fantastic new facility that is the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.
“I am delighted that we can now start to have discussions on the final phase of this move with greater clarity and conviction.”
But Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said the update “reveals the saga of the Sick Kids Hospital move is set to drag on for many more months”.
The Edinburgh Western MSP added: “While it was inevitable Covid would have an additional impact, ministers should be ashamed by the long succession of delays and the astronomical cost of mismanagement.
“These failings run into the tens of millions of pounds and families have been deprived of what should be a world-class custom-built hospital when we could have used it most.
“The Health Secretary must ensure this latest deadline isn’t missed and be entirely transparent about the final cost of the countless mistakes.”
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