Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Sale of original Sick Kids hospital site 'secure' say NHS Lothian

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh
Image caption The original Sick Kids hospital building has already been sold to a developer

Health bosses are "confident" the sale of Edinburgh's original Sick Kids Hospital will not fall through as a result of delays in moving to its replacement building.

It will be at least September before it is known when patients will be able to move into the troubled new hospital.

But the current site has already been sold to developer Downing to be turned into student and residential flats.

NHS Lothian said it was confident the sale was secure.

The original hospital in the Sciennes area of Edinburgh, which dates back to 1863, requires an extensive decommissioning process after services are relocated.

'Sorry and devastated'

In April, when it was still expected that the new facility would open in July, it was noted that the developer was due to take "complete vacant possession" of the aged hospital building in January 2020.

NHS Lothian's director of finances, Susan Goldsmith, apologised to patients and staff for the uncertainty and said that a "phased occupancy is being considered" for the new site.

She said: "There is obviously a cost of running both sites.

"We have been in constant dialogue with the purchaser.

"We have been working in partnership with them and at the moment I'm confident the sale is secure and we will continue with that developer."

She added: "I would like to stress how sorry and devastated we are that patients and staff are not able to move into what is and will be a fantastic new facility."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The new hospital has faced a number of delays in recent years

Last month, a full safety review into the delayed Sick Children's Hospital was ordered by the Scottish government. It also announced private consultants KPMG had been hired to establish the factors that led to the last-minute delay.

NHS Lothian is paying an average of £1.4m per month in repayments for the unused facility and it has been revealed the project will cost more than previously thought.

The Audit Scotland report stated that £80m has been spent on "enabling and equipment works" at the site outwith the deal with consortium IHSL

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said the money is "not a new or unexpected cost for the site, or connected to the delay".

She added: "The £80 million figure contained within this for enabling and equipment works has never been part of the £150 million contract for the hospital and was part of the approved business case."

More technical support

Ms Goldsmith, speaking at the latest NHS Lothian board meeting, also admitted that future big infrastructure projects undertaken by the health board would need more technical support.

She said: "One of the lessons from this is the need for a level of technical support we haven't anticipated before.

"For all projects, we are going to have to reassess what level of complex technical support we have."

Developer Downing previously declined to comment when asked about the future of the site.

Story provided by local democracy reporter David Bol.