Health chief hails new Royal Victoria hospital

The new Royal Victoria building offers a snapshot of “the future of the health service in Lothian”, it has been claimed.

The £43.6 million facility, which has admitted patients since the summer and was officially opened by Health Secretary Alex Neil yesterday, sees patients admitted to single rooms rather than traditional multi-bed wards.

Each of the 147 single rooms comes complete with an en-suite toilet, shower facilities and a flatscreen TV.

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There are five wards for over-65s, a rheumatology and dermatology ward and an assessment and rehabilitation centre.

Fears have been raised that single rooms in hospitals can lead to isolation and increased risks, as patients “cannot look out for each other”.

Mr Neil said that the single-room plan had been controversial, but insisted it offered greater dignity and privacy for patients, better sleep, increased infection control and allowed extended visiting hours.

He said: “It’s extremely impressive, not just in terms of the building and facilities, but patients are clearly happy with the single room 

“I am very, very proud of this facility. I can tell from the patients that it is providing a first-class service.

“The first patient I spoke to had been sceptical before she moved into a single ward and felt she might feel lonely, but her experience has been entirely the opposite and she’s a real convert.”

The Scottish Government has said almost all new-build and refurbished hospital facilities will adopt the single-room model. It is believed that the risk of the spread of infections, such as MRSA and norovirus, are decreased in single-room hospitals as patients have less contact with each other.

The new Sick Kids Hospital, to be built next to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, will have 59 per cent single rooms, while the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Child and Adolescent Mental Health departments, which will be on the same site, will offer all inpatients single rooms when they open in 2017.

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New wards at the existing ERI site, where it is hoped up to 70 new beds will be made available this year to ease pressure at the under-strain hospital, will not be single rooms.

One patient being treated in the new Royal Victoria building, 92-year-old Mary Archibald, described it as “beautiful” and said she “couldn’t imagine how lovely it was” before she was admitted.

Ms Archibald, from Prestonpans, treated the Health Secretary to an enthusiastic version of A Long Way to Tipperary when she met him in one of the building’s three physiotherapy gyms.

Dr Charles Winstanley, NHS Lothian’s chairman, said the project, which was funded with public money, had been delivered ahead of time and on budget.

It took contractor Laing O’Rourke two years to build, with large parts of the facility constructed off-site before being transported to the Western.

Dr Winstanley said: “This marks a key stage in our continual drive to improve the care we provide for older people throughout the Lothians.

“The Royal Victoria building is an important addition to the Western General Hospital site and has already had a positive impact on the services we provide for older people.

“The single occupancy layout gives a greater degree of privacy and helps patients feel more relaxed ideally promoting their recovery.”

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A new two-storey car park has been constructed at the rear of the Royal Victoria building, while the first cold water flushing system of its kind in Scotland, which acts to combat legionella, has been installed.

The extended visiting hours run between 10am and 8pm.

Fit for 21st century

• Cost £43.6m

• 147 private rooms for patients

• En-suite shower and toilet in rooms

• Flat-screen TV in rooms

• First cold water flushing system in Scotland, to combat legionella

• Three physiotherapy gyms

• Courtyard garden

• Extended visiting hours (10am-8pm)


THREE new life sciences research companies have moved into Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, First Minister Alex Salmond has announced.

The expansion brings the number of firms based at the research campus to ten, leading to claims that the ambition of transforming the centre into one of the world’s leading hubs for life sciences innovation is fast becoming a reality.

Mr Salmond said the firms – Science Squared, R-Biomedical and Marks and Clerks – were “at the cutting edge of an industry where Scotland excels internationally”.

Swedish firm Molnlycke, which develops surgical and wound care products, is also expanding, having been on the site for just six months.

Mr Salmond said: “Their opening at BioQuarter increases the concentration of life sciences companies at Edinburgh’s centre of excellence, and it represents a significant boost for a sector that is growing jobs and economic opportunities in Scotland.”

Dr Lena Wilson, chief executive at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Edinburgh BioQuarter is one of the industry’s flagship projects and will ensure we have the right infrastructure in place to support ambitious Scottish life sciences companies at all stages of development.”

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Science Squared develops online tools that improve communication, R-Biomedical specialises in regenerative medicine research, while Marks and Clerks is one of the leading patent and trade mark firms in the UK.