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Humza Yousaf challenged to guarantee safety of Edinburgh’s Sick Kids hospital

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is being asked if he can guarantee the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh is safe (Jane Barlow/PA)
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is being asked if he can guarantee the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh is safe (Jane Barlow/PA)

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is being asked if he can guarantee Edinburgh’s new Sick Kids hospital is safe, amid concerns that cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower has been installed at the flagship hospital.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has written to the Health Secretary, questioning whether the cladding at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh complies with building standards.

He asked Mr Yousaf: “Can you guarantee that the hospital is safe for staff and visitors?”

An inquiry is already looking at construction issues at the hospital, whose opening had to be delayed.

Now Mr Hamilton, the MSP for Edinburgh Western, has highlighted “very concerning revelations that the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh is currently covered in cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower”.

Scottish Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf is facing questions over the cladding used at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh (Peter Summers/PA)

The Scottish Government insisted that “no cladding of the type that was used in Grenfell Tower are used in any Scottish hospital”.

But in a letter to Mr Yousaf, the Lib Dem leader said: “The exterior of the hospital is covered in an Aluminium Composite Material.

“It is my understanding that NHS Lothian has carried out safety checks and maintain that the cladding on the hospital is safe.

“However, as you no doubt know, a document given to the leadership at NHS Lothian in January stated that the building standards, and in particular the cavity barriers, at the Sick Kids hospital were not compliant, due to them being installed every 20 metres rather than the recommended 10-metre spacing.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton went on to say it was “also unclear whether the building complies with the Scottish Government’s updated notice on how to determine the risk posed by cladding on buildings”.

He told the Health Secretary that the situation was “alarming to the many staff who work at the hospital and the patients who rely on it”, as he asked the Health Secretary to clarify whether it meets building regulations.

More than 70 people were killed in the fire at Grenfell Tower in London in 2017 (Nicholas T. Ansell/PA)

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader described the blaze at the Grenfell Tower flats in London, which killed 72 people back in 2017, as a “modern horror story”.

He added: “It is deeply worrying that a similar cladding is on the walls of one of our children’s hospitals.

“Of all the places to have a question mark over its safety, a hospital where parents are sending their sick children to get well is the most concerning.

“This is a building that is already subject to an ongoing public inquiry, and now this.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton continued: “The Government has acknowledged the safety concerns and said they’ll be addressed but they haven’t provided any details as to what will be done, or when any work will be completed.

“Everyone working at, or relying on, the hospital needs to have complete assurance that the building they are in is safe.

“If there’s any question mark over its safety then the Government and NHS Lothian need to take action today.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “No cladding of the type that was used in Grenfell Tower are used in any Scottish hospital, including the Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP).

“NHS Lothian is developing a programme of work to ensure all cavity barriers in use at the RHCYP are fully compliant with safety regulations.

“The board has been clear that the hospital is a safe place of care.”