NHS apologises to patients ahead of delayed hospital opening

The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh will open a year and eight months later than scheduled.

NHS apologises to patients ahead of delayed hospital opening NHS Lothian
The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.

NHS Lothian has apologised to patients affected by the delayed completion of the “safest hospital in the world” ahead of its full opening.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman put things on hold over concerns about the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP) building in Edinburgh, which had been due to launch in July 2019.

Officials now say the £150m facility will open fully on Tuesday – a year and eight months later than scheduled.

Calum Campbell, NHS Lothian chief executive, said: “First of all we want to apologise for the delay – we’re sorry there has been a delay.

“What I would say is we’ve taken the opportunity of that delay to fix the problem of the air changes in the critical air unit, that has been sorted.

“We’ve also taken the opportunity to upgrade other parts of the building.

“So you’re in the safest hospital in the UK, Europe, probably the world.

“It’s a fabulous facility – I don’t want to see children in hospital, but if they have to be in hospital this is the place to be.”

The new site includes a children’s emergency department, 242 beds, 10 theatres and wards, outdoor play areas and physical and mental health specialities in one place.

Mental health inpatient facilities and some outpatient services had previously moved to the new hospital earlier this year following the Department of Clinical Neurosciences last July.

Katy Currie, senior charge nurse, said she had never worked in a facility like in her 38 years working for the health service.

She added: “It’s going to make a huge difference for the staff – there’s nice coffee rooms, there’s outside spaces for people to have breaks, it’s light and airy.

“It’s going to make a difference for the patients – there’s lovely toys, there’s good distractions, there’s nice artwork.”

Final compliance checks revealed the ventilation system in the critical care department of the new building did not meet the necessary standards.

An independent inquiry was commissioned to review issues there as well as at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

In May last year, Freeman told the Scottish Parliament that work on the hospital was expected to be completed by January 25 with Covid-19 anticipated to affect the timeline.

However, in January, an engineering team needed to self-isolate for two weeks, delaying the final progress and completion date.