Row continues over Sick Kids bus advertising 'fib'

A row has broken out over the date this image - showing a Lothian bus displaying advertising for the new Sick Kids hospital opening on July 9 - was taken.
A row has broken out over the date this image - showing a Lothian bus displaying advertising for the new Sick Kids hospital opening on July 9 - was taken.
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A row has erupted over the placement of “outdated” advertising still advising parents to take their youngsters to the delayed Sick Kids hospital on the side of buses in the Capital - despite claims all signage was removed last month.

It comes after Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton accused NHS Lothian of being “lax and irresponsible” over the continued display of boards informing locals the new £150m Royal Hospital for Sick Children would be open by July 9 - weeks after the project was delayed indefinitely.

The health board hit out at Mr Cole-Hamilton’s allegations on social media, stating the image circulated showing the advertising remained in place over the last week, alleging the photograph was “old”.

However, the Lib Dem health spokesman described that as a “fib,” using a screenshot to prove the image was taken on August 9 - three weeks after NHS Lothian said all advertising bearing that date had been removed.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman cancelled the opening of the replacement for the historic Sciennes Road building after inspections found safety concerns over its ventilation system days before it was due welcome patients.

A safety review of the site was commissioned to assess the water, ventilation and drainage systems, though some have warned the building may have to be “torn down and rebuilt”.

The 150m hospital has been indefinitely delayed while a safety review of water, ventilation and drainage systems is carried out.

The 150m hospital has been indefinitely delayed while a safety review of water, ventilation and drainage systems is carried out.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “To call this an old photo is false. We have provided proof of our taking this photo last Friday on Hanover Street so at least one advert was still in circulation weeks after the move to the hospital was cancelled. It has now only been taken down because of my intervention earlier this week.”

“The public deserve accurate and transparent reports about Edinburgh’s health services. The whole point of this awareness campaign was to ensure parents didn’t take an ill child to the wrong place.”

In a Twitter response to Mr Cole-Hamilton’s claims, NHS Lothian said they were “certainly not fibbing,” adding they were “reassured” by transport provider Lothian that all advertising around the opening of the hospital be removed by July 18.

A statement read: "We requested the immediate removal of all bus advertisements on July 4, 2019 - as soon as the decision was taken to delay the opening of the site."

“We were in regular contact to check progress on this and have been assured that all the adverts were removed by 18 July."

“The position with the hospital has been communicated directly and individually to our existing patients and well publicised to the wider public. This has included clear and detailed information on our public website, a radio campaign, a social media campaign supported by many third sector organisations as well as communication with GPs to pass information on to their patients. There is also a dedicated 24/7 helpline still in operation for those with questions and concerns about where to attend.

“Patients should continue to attend the existing children’s Emergency Department and Minor Injuries Unit at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Sciennes Road, Edinburgh. We would ask patients and their families who have concerns about where to attend to please contact our dedicated helpline on 0800 028 2816, 8am-10pm Mon-Fri and 9am-5pm Sat & Sun.”