Move to new Edinburgh children’s hospital delayed

Thursday 4th July 2019

Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, has delayed the move of patients, staff and services from the existing Royal Hospital for Sick Children to the new site at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which was due to take place next week.

The decision was taken following final safety checks which revealed that the ventilation system within the critical care department in the new hospital requires further work to meet national standards.

The Health Secretary has directed the health board to ‘act as quickly as practicable’ to ensure all aspects of the hospital, including the ventilation system, meet the necessary national standards.

The board has been instructed to set out their plan to phase the move from the old hospital to the new site once it is safe to do so.

Health Facilities Scotland and Health Protection Scotland will support NHS Lothian with this work, and final decisions will be taken by the Scottish Government.

 “In order to be absolutely sure that patient safety is delivered, I have no choice but to postpone NHS Lothian’s planned move to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People,” Jeane Freeman said.

There is no greater responsibility of the NHS than to ensure the clinical safety of their patients, not least when those patients are children.

It is vital that patient safety remains paramount, which is why I have asked the health board to stop all moves until assurances have been given that the new site is entirely compliant with the relevant health technical standards.  

“...While this issue has been caught by the final safety checks, I am disappointed and deeply concerned that this was not identified earlier.

I have asked that Health Facilities Scotland undertake an investigation to determine how the hospital got to this advanced stage before it was discovered that the ventilation system fell below the standards expected. This work will cover both technical and governance aspects of the project.

We will continue to be in close contact with the health board throughout this period to ensure the health and safety of patients remains the key focus.”

The amalgamation of services from the current Royal Hospital for Sick Children, the department of clinical neurosciences at the Western General and Edinburgh’s child and adolescent mental health services, was due to become operational on the 9th July.

Tim Davison, NHS Lothian chief executive, said: “Patient safety is paramount, and following the handover of the new hospital NHS Lothian has continued to monitor facilities at the new site to ensure all systems are operating to national standards.

Following advice from an independent advisor, I fully accept the Health Secretary’s decision to reschedule the move to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. The air environment is extremely important and can help prevent the occurrence and spread of infection in patients who are already vulnerable

We are extremely disappointed that we cannot move as planned and I am very sorry for the disappointment this will cause to patients, their families and staff affected by this delay. However, patient safety must always come first.”