New building for Sick Kids could be scrapped

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HEALTH bosses will consider scrapping plans to build a new Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh, after the scheme was hit with more delays.

A new £250million hospital was set to be complete in 2013, but the date has been set back to 2017 if the project goes ahead at all.

NHS Lothian say a private contractor, Consort, haven’t secured agreement from banks to go ahead with a land-swap and allow it to be built in a car park.

Politicians and patients’ groups have hit out at the delays, with the Scottish Patients Association calling the developments a ”sorry mess.”

The new hospital, if built, would see the Sick Kids move from its current location on Sciennes Road in Edinburgh to a site neighbouring the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI).

NHS Lothian has put together a “Plan B” for the hospital, which would mean it stays on the current site.

Though a new car park has been built to replace the old one, Consort needs the agreement of 11 banks to sign off an “SA6” land swap deal.

Consort runs the neighbouring ERI under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract.

The health board’s finance director Susan Goldsmith said: “What’s become quite clear is that the bank in question has no issue with the principle of SA6 but they want to agree a different commercial arrangement with Consort’s shareholders so they’re taking SA6 to open up the dialogue with Consort.

“That’s something that we as a board can’t resolve.

“The agreement is between Consort and the 11 banks so we’ve also been in dialogue with the [Scottish Government’s] Scottish Futures Trust.

“That means that I’m not in a position to advise the board when this will be resolved.”

She added it would be early 2017 before the hospital could be complete.

Non-executive board memeber Richard Williams, who represents GPs, said: “We’re being held to ransom by an arrangement that we have no control over.”

He called for NHS Lothian to revisit “Plan B” for the Sick Kids, though a report has recommended this would be inadequate.

It emerged earlier this year the project was four years behind schedule.

But politicians and campaigners reacted angrily to the latest setback.

Margaret Watt, of the Scottish Patients Association, said: “A new Sick Kids is of paramount importance and this sorry mess needs to be sorted out.”

Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack called for Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon to step in.

She added: “It is unacceptable that the Sick Kids can be delayed any further.

Margo MacDonald MSP said: “It’s in situations like this that I wish we were independent with our own Treasury with which we could ensure that the sick kids is built as a public investment.”

A spokeswoman for Consort said: “Consort is in continuous dialogue with the remaining lender to conclude the deal as quickly as possible and is in frequent liaison with NHS Lothian with information regarding progress of the discussions.”

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