Massive revamp of hospitals across Lothians hit by delays

A MULTI-MILLION-POUND revamp of hospitals across the Lothians has been hit by a series of delays.

Plans to close Edinburgh's Royal Victoria Hospital and move services to the Western General are being redrawn, after the preferred location was deemed unsuitable.

A 15 million scheme to build a health centre in Musselburgh is also facing fresh delays of around two years due to a planning hold-up. A 60m redevelopment of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital is likely to fall behind schedule, and a new hospital in Haddington, East Lothian, now won't open until 2011 - a year later than hoped.

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NHS Lothian's 200m scheme to modernise the region's healthcare was finalised in summer 2005, and also includes plans for a new hospital in Midlothian - finally being progressed following years of delays.

Although there were hundreds of protests against the changes, particularly the closure of the Royal Victoria on Craigleith Road, most health experts agree more modern facilities are urgently required.

The 247-bed Royal Victoria, the main assessment and rehabilitation hospital for elderly patients in north Edinburgh, was due to be sold off and replaced by a 15m clinic at the Western General by August 2010. But the proposed unit did not meet Scottish Executive guidance on the number of single occupancy rooms, and different options are now being analysed.

Jackie Sansbury, director of planning and modernisation with NHS Lothian, said: "We will be undertaking further consultation with established public consultation groups and once the preferred option has been approved we will be able to confirm the expected timeframe and cost."

Original plans for the crumbling Royal Edinburgh Hospital on Morningside Place, which provides psychiatric and mental health services, involved rebuilding the facilities on the same site.

But health chiefs are now considering creating a new psychiatric hospital on the same site as the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Little France. A report from the health board has classed the scheme as "likely to be delayed".

Ms Sansbury said: "We are looking at new opportunities in relation to potential site options. Following this additional work, a revised business case will be developed. We cannot confirm a timescale for re-provision of the hospital services until this work has been carried out."

A health centre in Musselburgh to replace the dilapidated Edenhall Hospital was first proposed in 1998, but talks stalled because health chiefs could not afford to buy the land. The derelict Brunton Wireworks site was eventually sold last year and will be used to build a new Tesco supermarket, residential and day-care services for the elderly, and residential flats, as well as the new primary care clinic.

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The estimated date for completion was June 2009, but that has now been put back to late 2011, based on choosing to fund the scheme through a private finance initiative.

Ms Sansbury said: "We are awaiting finalisation of outline planning consent. We are preparing an outline business case for this development and the timetable has been revised to take account of delays in site acquisition and planning consent."

Musselburgh Community Council chairman John Caldwell said: "I'm disgusted to hear about this latest delay. We are in an area where the population is increasing dramatically, and it is ridiculous that we have to wait this long."

In Haddington, East Lothian, a new hospital is to replace the Herdmanflat Hospital for Psychiatric Care. It was due to open in May 2010, but is now likely to be delayed until 2011.

In Midlothian, a new 15.5m hospital will provide a replacement for the ageing Rosslynlee and Loanhead hospitals. The site is now expected to be completed by the end of 2009.


NEARLY 130 cases of hospital superbug clostridium difficile were recorded in the Lothians in February, according to new statistics.

The number of cases rose from 95 in December and 120 in January, but NHS Lothian said this was a decrease compared to early 2006.

The number of Scots dying from the bug has nearly doubled in four years, with 100 deaths in 2005 compared with 57 in 2001.

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In a report, Carol Fraser, a nurse consultant in health protection, said:

"Generally, the number of episodes of clostridium difficile has been stable. Cases are scattered across sites and specialities, indicating that these are sporadic rather than linked cases."

The report added there was "no significant increase" in the number of cases of the better-known hospital superbug, MRSA.