Sick Kids “ghost hospital” scandal triggers questions at Holyrood


Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson has asked 32 parliamentary questions about the scandal surrounding the new Sick Kids, demanding that the Health Secretary is upfront with Parliament about how bad the problems really are.

It follows reports at the weekend that there is no guarantee that the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh will be open before the end of next year, after its opening was cancelled just 100 hours before patients were due to arrive last month. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton’s questions include:

  • whether the Scottish Government believes more public sector contracts should be awarded to Multiplex at this time, the company which also designed and built the QEUH super-hospital where deaths have been linked to infections caused by pigeon droppings;
  • at what point the Health Secretary became aware of various problems, given the Scottish Government has representatives on the project board;
  • what initial learning from the Sick Kids scandal it has passed to other projects, to prevent similar mistakes occurring;
  • to what extent the Scottish Government’s controversial NPD financing model or advice from its Scottish Futures Trust contributed towards NHS Lothian already repaying around £1.4 million a month for a hospital that is unsafe to open;
  • and whether NHS Lothian could face further financial liabilities if it fails to handover “complete vacant possession” of the old hospital building to developers in January 2020.

Mr Cole-Hamilton commented:

“This should be a thriving centre of excellence for children’s healthcare. Instead, hundreds of beds are gathering dust and we don’t know for how long it will be a ghost hospital.

“The excitement about the long-awaited opening of this brand new hospital, already years overdue, has quickly been replaced by dismay at this unbelievable situation.

“The Health Secretary must be upfront with Parliament. While the extent of some of the problems is still being evaluated, the Health Secretary obviously knew enough to postpone the hospital’s opening for the foreseeable future. The Scottish Government has had representatives on the project’s board so people would expect ministers to have a strong grasp of what has happened at every turn.

“We need to know what initial learning from this project has been shared with other big builds, including whether the Scottish Government has formed a view on Multiplex’s suitability to take on other flagship public sector developments at this time.”


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