The bill for Edinburgh’s delayed Royal Hospital for Children and Young People has increased by £90 million, auditors have revealed.
An audit report yesterday also showed problems at the troubled project posing a danger to patients and visitors were identified more than two years ago by health bosses.
The new hospital has been mired in controversy since Health Secretary Jeane Freeman halted its official opening last month amid concerns over the its construction.
One leading union official warned at the weekend that the building may have to be “ripped down”.
Yesterday’s audit report shows an extra £80 million has been spent on “enabling and equipment works” at the site. A further £11.6m has been given to consortium Integrated Health
Solutions Lothian (IHSL) to end a contract dispute over construction standards.
This is on top of the £150m in construction costs for the project, with the extra costs pushing the lifetime price tag of the new hospital next to the city’s Royal Infirmary towards £500m.
Labour Health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “The government has clearly known for some time about the serious issues around governance and problems with the progress of the contract for the new Sick Kids hospital Edinburgh.
“With the publication of today’s report, it begs the questions of why the Health Secretary hasn’t previously mentioned it and how the situation has been allowed to progress to this stage.
“We are learning more about this scandal by the day, and events have now moved on even from when this audit report was signed off earlier in the summer.
“More questions than answers remain and ultimately the buck stops with Jeane Freeman.”
NHS Lothian even sought legal advice about the prospect of taking the developer IHSL to court over problems with the building but decided the risks were too high, according to the annual audit of the health board for 2018/19 published yesterday.
The audit states: “NHS Lothian has consistently maintained its position that the issues experienced were materially non-compliant with the original specifications and raised concerns over the facilities for patients, visitors and staff (relating to aspects such as function, safety, adequacy and future capacity).”
It reveals that the long-running dispute with the contractor stretches back to a series of spats throughout, resulting in a Dispute Resolution Process being submitted in September of that year.
“NHS Lothian had identified a number of issues that it believed were not compliant with the original contractual requirements and raised concerns over what it felt would be a significant adverse impact on patients, staff and visitors,” the report adds.
KPMG is carrying out an investigation into the delays and Scottish Labour has called for a public inquiry.
Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said: “We have continued to monitor events since the annual audit report was issued and will be taking a close interest in the NHS safety review’s findings and KPMG’s report on the governance of the project.”
The hospital was formally handed over to NHS Lothian in February after being signed off by an independent certifier and is now paying a monthly bill of £1.4m a month under the Non-Profit
Distributing (NPD) system, the Scottish Government’s version of controversial private financing models such as PFI.
It also emerged yesterday that young people needing treatment for brain and nerve-related conditions have been left at ‘high risk’ over the delayed opening of the new children’s hospital.
Younger patients are currently treated at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital but the facilities are not considered fit for purpose.
The concerns were set out in documents from NHS Lothian’s Healthcare Governance Committee which set out the risk to the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) caused by the delayed move is “considered to be high due to the water safety problems in the current building”.
Neurologists and neurosurgeons treat people with disorders of the nervous system.
These include problems affecting the brain and spinal cord and the nerves and muscles in the rest of the body, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or brain injuries.