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Minister dismisses claims new hospital will cost extra £90m

The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh was due to open last month.

Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.
Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh. NHS Lothian

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said reports the new children's hospital in Edinburgh will cost an extra £90m are "inaccurate and misleading".

The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh was due to open last month but was halted after final checks revealed the critical care unit's ventilation system did not meet the necessary standards.

Ms Freeman, who stepped in to overrule NHS Lothian and block the hospital opening, has now said in a statement the timetable of work she set out in July is "on track", although she did not specify a date for the hospital opening.

She said the cost for replacing the ventilation in the critical care unit of the empty hospital is not yet known.

The Health Secretary said: "Work by Health Protection Scotland and Health Facilities Scotland is now well under way and will give me the facts on which I will base any future decision about a timetable for the move. "I expect to have a report on this in September.

"Once we have the facts about how we replace and improve the existing ventilation in the critical care unit, then we will have a cost associated."

She added: "Reports in the media referencing a further £90m for the new children's hospital are inaccurate and misleading.

"To date, the only additional payment since this full business case was approved is the £11.6m settlement agreement for drainage, which has already been reviewed by the external auditor at Audit Scotland's request.

"The £80m figure contained within this for enabling and equipment works has never been part of the £150m contract for the hospital and was part of the approved business case, which was made publicly available on the board's website following approval in 2015.

"It is not a new or unexpected cost for the site or connected to the delay."

Since February, the health board has been paying around £1.4m a month for the empty hospital to developers Integrated Health Solutions Lothian (IHSL) under the 25-year private finance deal agreed for the new building.

The NHS is carrying out a review of the water, ventilation and drainage systems at the hospital, ordered by Ms Freeman.

She said: "I want to thank NHS Lothian staff, patients and families for their continued patience as we work to migrate services to the new site as soon as it is safe to do so. Protecting patient safety will always be my top priority.

"I understand recent headlines about the future of the new hospital have caused distress to staff who have worked hard to make the move and I want to provide personal assurance that when I have information on the next steps for the phased move, staff and patients will be the first to know.

"In the meantime, NHS Lothian continue to provide quality care from the existing site and we are in daily contact with the board.

"It's important to stress that the timetable of work I set out in July, when issues with the ventilation in critical care came to light, remains on track."

Scottish Labour Health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: "There has been no shortage of patience from NHS Lothian staff and the public who were promised this new hospital a decade ago when Nicola Sturgeon herself was Health Secretary.

"Jeane Freeman says she's in control of this fiasco but instead of criticising the media and trade unions she should have been communicating directly with staff in the first place.

"The bill to taxpayers is rising and patients are being let down.

"Scottish Labour will continue to urge SNP ministers to agree to a full and independent public inquiry."

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