Public inquiry into issues at hospital sites

The new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People
The new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People

A public inquiry will examine issues at the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital following concerns from parents over safety and wellbeing.

The inquiry will determine how vital issues relating to ventilation and other key building systems occurred, and what steps can prevent this being repeated in future projects.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman previously rejected calls for a public inquiry, but now appears to have changed her mind.

She said: “The safety and wellbeing of all patients and their families is my top priority and should be the primary consideration in all NHS construction projects.

“I want to make sure this is the case for all future projects, which is why, following calls from affected parents, I am announcing a public inquiry to examine the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital sites.

“The recent KPMG and NSS reports into the new Royal Hospital will provide a significant amount of the underpinning evidence for the inquiry alongside the ongoing independent review into the delivery and maintenance of the Queen Elizabeth.

“The current situation is not one anyone would choose, but is one I am determined to resolve.”

Thomas Waterson, chair of UNISON’s Health Committee, welcomed the news.

He said: “The Scottish Government has finally bowed to pressure from UNISON, patients and community groups to hold a public inquiry into these lengthy and costly delays - a decision that is long overdue.

“The failings have not only taken millions of pounds out of the public purse – money which should have been spent on patient care – but it has seriously disrupted patient care and been hugely frustrating for NHS workers.

“The whole fiasco yet again highlights the weakness of the Scottish Government’s private finance system: The Scottish Futures Trust.

“Patients, staff and tax payers should not be left paying the price for this catalogue of errors and it is vital this inquiry ensures this is never allowed to happen again.”

Meanwhile, a senior programme director, who will report directly to the Scottish Government, has been appointed to work with NHS Lothian on the delivery of the new Royal Hospital.

Mary Morgan, who was director of Strategy, Performance and Service Transformation at NHS National Services Scotland, will oversee actions to ensure the safe delivery of the new hospital and department of Clinical Neurosciences.

Ms Morgan said: “I recognise the importance and the challenge of the task ahead, whilst acknowledging the large amount of work that has been already undertaken.

“I am looking forward to working with colleagues in NHS Lothian in order to ensure that the new site for the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the department of Clinical Neurosciences is fully compliant and safe, ensuring the successful completion and move of services to the new premises.”