Exclusive:Major repair works needed at Edinburgh's new Sick Kids Hospital amid concern for children's health
Major sections of the floor at Edinburgh’s state-of-the-art Sick Kids Hospital are set to be repaired in unexpected works that come just two years after the trouble-hit facility opened to patients following lengthy delays.
It has emerged the hospital is facing four months of repair work to fix problems with flooring running from its main entrance along a major access corridor. Hospital chiefs have been urged to reassure families the works will not have any impact on children’s health.
The £432 million hospital, which sits in the same campus as the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Little France, has been beset by issues since it was built, with construction and operating costs soaring way over budget.
Its planned grand opening in July 2019 was postponed at the last minute after problems with the ventilation system were discovered, with only outpatient services moving there from the old site in the city’s Sciennes area.
The hospital, which deals with around 50,000 young patients each year, eventually fully opened in March 2021 after a costly – £28m – programme of works to fix the issues.
Now a schedule of urgent remedial work is taking place to replace defective tiles on the floor that leads from the front door, along the main thoroughfare that includes the reception area and shop, and continues to a doorway to the outside and other parts of the hospital.
The Scotsman understands the work will last until January. Parts of the atrium will be unavailable for use, with alternative access routes to be highlighted.
Craig Marriott, director of finance for NHS Lothian, said: “Works are being carried out to the flooring of the atrium at Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.
“This will involve the lifting, re-grouting and relaying of floor tiles. The work will be carried out in small sections to minimise any disruption to our staff and patients.”
The works are being carried out by the health board’s NPD service provider, with The Scotsman told it will come at no cost to NHS Lothian.
Ministers have come under fire over the latest problems at the hospital, with opposition politicians raising concerns over safety and potential disruption to patients, families and staff.
Sue Webber, Lothians MSP for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “Patients, parents and the public will be deeply concerned that a hospital – only opened over two-and-a-half years ago – already requires significant repairs to be carried out.
“The initial project was beset by repeated delays and mismanagement from the top of the SNP Government. With work potentially ongoing until January, urgent reassurances must be given that children’s treatment won’t be affected.
“SNP ministers must step up and guarantee NHS Lothian has every resource available to ensure the Sick Kids hospital is fully fit for purpose and accessible for staff, parents and patients.”
Scottish Labour’s shadow health secretary Jackie Baillie said: “This is a concerning revelation and comes hot on the heels of the well-documented problems with the construction and maintenance of the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People [RHCYP].
“For such major repairs to be required just a few years after the building was completed is another example of how SNP ministers botched the delivery of this important hospital.
“Hopefully this work will be completed without any delay and the hospital will be fully functional again soon.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Given the cladding problems that have afflicted the RHCYP, this news will come as a huge source of frustration for patients and staff. It is just the latest in a long line of building defects affecting the hospital.
“This will mean more grist to the mill for the public inquiry currently examining the issues at the RHCYP.
“Both the Scottish Government and health board bosses should be doing everything they can to ensure that the necessary repairs are completed as swiftly as possible. Patients and staff deserve better than endless disruption.”
The facility was forecast to cost about £150m to build, but its full price tag over the following 25 years, including maintenance and facilities management fees, will come in at almost three times that, with an estimated final bill of £432m.
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