New safety issues found at children's hospital

  • Published
Design drawing of new hospital

Problems with fire and electrical systems have been found at a new hospital which has been lying empty due to safety concerns.

A report into safety issues at Edinburgh's new children's hospital identified "major" issues with the electrics in critical care areas.

A lack of qualified staff for the electrical installation was also identified by the internal NHS review.

The issues are not expected to delay the hospital opening next autumn.

Repayments for the hospital building - the equivalent of about £1.4m a month - started when NHS Lothian moved into the hospital in February and are continuing despite the facility's planned July opening being postponed after issues with the ventilation were uncovered.

Lack of qualified staff

The National Services Scotland (NSS) review found major problems with the electrical systems, including a need for mitigation to avoid the failure of the single electrical supply to critical equipment such as life support systems.

The review found there appeared to be a "lack of qualified and experienced", authorised and competent persons for the electrical installation.

Issues were also identified with the fire system, including a requirement to upgrade fire doors and improve smoke dampers on evacuation routes.

Image caption,
The new hospital will provide care for children and young people

NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison said: "We are pleased there are no new substantive compliance issues here that may affect the timeline.

"The ventilation system in critical care remains the main issue and we continue to work through the remaining remedial works."

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman added: "The safety and wellbeing of all patients and their families has always been and will remain top priority.

"This second report from NSS has identified remedial and improvement work required within the fire and electrical systems and that will be factored into a wider plan of work being taken forward to ensure safety at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN).

"I expect the DCN to move in spring 2020, with the rest of the children's hospital migrating to the new site in autumn next year."

An independent review of the governance arrangements for the new hospital found that the main issue with ventilation in its critical care units stemmed from an error in a document produced by NHS Lothian at the tender stage in 2012.

It found that this was human error relating to confusion over interpretation of building standards and guidance, and that opportunities to spot and rectify the error by IHSL, the private consortium with the contractual responsibility to design and construct the hospital, were missed.

Image caption,
The delay to the new site was announced the day before patients and equipment were to begin moving to the site on 2 July

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson MSP said: "A number of the issues raised by this review are concerning, especially those that point to the lack of a clear management structure and omissions in the identification,.

"This, coupled with an apparent lack of appropriately qualified personal in electrical installation roles, points to areas that need to be urgently address by the health board."

A public inquiry to examine safety and wellbeing issues at the new hospital has been called by the Scottish government.

Contractor IHSL has previously pointed out that its works on the hospital were signed off as complete by an independent certifier on 22 February before NHS Lothian moved in.