New faults with fire and electrical systems discovered at Edinburgh's new Sick Kids hospital

Review reveals further failings at £150m building

MORE failings have been identified at Edinburgh's troubled new Sick Kids hospital after a review of the building's fire and electrical systems.

Experts found smoke dampers had not been fitted in corridors serving sleeping accommodation, creating a risk that smoke could travel through the ventilation system and affect escape routes.

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And they said more must be done to guard against the loss of electricity supply to critical services such as life support.

The latest report on problems at the £150 million state-of-the-art hospital follows a previous investigation into the water, ventilation and drainage systems which found a series of issues.

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Edinburgh's Sick Kids hospital won't open for another year

The opening of the new building next to the Royal Infirmary at Little France, scheduled for July, was called off at the last minute after it was discovered the ventilation in critical care did not meet national standards and extra checks were ordered by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

In the new report published today, the experts from NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) said some doors on escape routes from sleeping accommodation were not fire doors.

And it said: "It was identified that in areas where rooms are regarded as being used as sleeping accommodation that these did not have smoke dampers, but were fitted with fire dampers. The risk consequence of this in the event of a fire could be that smoke would travel through ventilation into adjoining rooms and the corridor which is the escape route before the fire dampers would be actuated.

"Remotely re-settable fire and smoke dampers should be fitted to prevent the travel of smoke between sleeping accommodation areas where ducting leads to a corridor serving as an evacuation route."

The NSS report said the most urgent fault they found - rated "major: absence of key controls, major deviations from guidance" - was the need for remedial action in both the high voltage and low voltage installations at the hospital.

They also said all three of the building's uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) - which guarantee electricity is still available in an emergency - were contained in the same room, reducing resilience if there was a major failure.

And they recommended NHS Lothian should require IHSL, the consortium behind the project, to provide agreed mitigation strategies to avoid internal failure of the single electrical supply to the critical electrical services such life support.

The report also highlighted other failings. "Some of the records and documents necessary for the effective and safe operation of the hospital could not be found," it said.

"There appeared to be a lack of qualified and experienced Authorised Persons and Competent Persons for both the HV and LV electrical installations."

And it identified more minor shortcomings in the medical gas systems, but said the review confirmed the systems had been designed, installed and commissioned in accordance with the relevant standards.

Lothian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said the report showed how far the construction of the new hospital was below the required building standards.

“The failure to properly install fire systems, electrical systems and medical gas installations raises real concerns around safety of patients and staff at the new hospital site.

“These remedial works must be carried out comprehensively, double checked and then tripled checked and full transparency given to the public so that they can be confident with the new hospital when it finally opens.”

NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison said welcomed the report and said none of the findings would add to the delay in the hospital's opening, now scheduled for autumn next year for the Sick Kids and spring next year for the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, currently based at the Western General.

Mr Davison said: "We are pleased there are no new substantive compliance issues here that may affect the timeline. The ventilation system in critical care remains the main issue and we continue to work through the remaining remedial works to ensure DCN can move in in the spring. We are also carefully risk assessing possible further enhancements that can be achieved without affecting the current timeline.

“I would like to pay tribute to our wonderful staff at DCN, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children all of whom have displayed real professionalism and resilience despite their disappointment at the delayed move.

"Just last week staff at DCN and RHSC won high praise following an unannounced inspection by Health Improvement Scotland. In initial verbal feedback the inspection team commended staff for the outstanding patient care they continue to provide, for the cleanliness of the existing facilities and the positive attitudes they found in staff at all levels.”