Children’s hospital opening still months away

Design work & cost reviews must be carried out before NHS Lothian can tackle ‘main time barrier’ to opening of new Edinburgh hospital

Monday 2nd September 2019

The opening of the Sick Kids hospital is still at least two months away, healthandcare.scot understands.

NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison has said the ‘main time barrier’ will be sourcing a new air handling unit.

A manufacturer of hospital ventilation systems has told healthandcare.scot this ’typically’ takes around eight weeks.

The opening of the £150m Royal Hospital for Sick Children was delayed at the last minute after safety checks flagged up problems with ventilation in critical care areas at the site.

Mr Davison outlined an ‘initial assessment’ of the ‘key stages’ needed to fix the problems in a letter to the Scottish Government in July.

Setting out the stages, his letter states that before any changes can take place, there will be design discussions with developers IHSL, contractors MPX and NHS technical experts.

‘Cost implications’ have to be assessed before a formal instruction is issued to IHSL, asking them to carry out the work.

Funders with then have to ‘sign off’ the proposals.

Only then can developers look at sourcing an additional air handling unit.

A manufacturer has told us eight weeks from an order being placed to getting a unit on site is the usual industry standard.

However remedial works are only likely to begin once an ongoing review by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) concludes.

NSS’s health facilities experts are undertaking a detailed investigation to determine what changes are necessary. 

Separately, consultants KPMG are looking into how the air conditioning system flaws were only picked up at the last minute.

In a statement, NHS Lothian said it was waiting for the reviews to conclude and would not “speculate” on a potential opening date.

Mr Davison said: "We are working in conjunction with Health Facilities Scotland and Health Protection Scotland to review the design and the building to ensure it meets all the required standards to protect patient safety which is always our top priority.

"Until the reviews are complete, we cannot speculate on timelines for a full opening of the hospital, but we are actively developing a partial migration of some services unaffected in the shorter term and this would only be implemented after a rigorous risk assessment and approval from the Scottish Government.

"An Oversight Board, made up of Scottish Government, NHS Lothian, National Services Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust, has been established in order to provide co-ordinated advice on the readiness of the hospital to open and on the possible migration of services to the new facility.”