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Freeman blames 8-year Sick Kids delay on Brexit

SNP health secretary Jeane Freeman has blamed the decade-long fiasco surrounding the new Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh on Brexit.

Despite being in sole charge of the beleaguered project since coming to office in 2007, the nationalists said it was the UK’s decision to leave the EU which was halting progress at the Little France site.

Ms Freeman will table a parliamentary amendment today declaring “construction inflation has been driven significantly in recent times by Brexit and its impact on sterling and on the attractiveness to potential skilled workers to come from the EU to work in Scotland”.

That excuse comes less than 24 hours after she ordered a public inquiry into the hospital construction saga.

Since plans to replace the current Sick Kids hospital in the Capital were announced, the project has been beset by financial and planning problems.

The Scottish Government stumped up less money than NHS Lothian thought it would, meaning funding had to be secured through the controversial non-profit distribution scheme.

Since then, the hospital has been repeatedly delayed, and now won’t open until autumn next year at the very earliest.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said:

“Blaming Brexit for the significant delays at the new Sick Kids is a hilariously bad excuse, even by the SNP’s standards.

“Let’s remember this hospital was supposed to open in 2012, years before the ‘Brexit’ word had even been coined.

“And if Jeane Freeman is so convinced that Brexit is to blame for this fiasco, why did she order a public inquiry less than 24 hours prior to this statement?

“Patients, their families and staff are in no doubt about who is at fault for this hospital farce.

“The SNP have been in sole charge of this since 2007 – it has absolutely no hiding place.”

Ends

 

Notes to editors:

 

Below is the wording of the SNP’s amendment to today’s debate motion:

 

As an amendment to motion S5M-18902 in the name of Miles Briggs (Mismanagement of NHS Construction Projects), leave out from “is deeply concerned” to ", and asks for" and insert "‘believes that patient safety should be the primary consideration in NHS construction projects; is deeply concerned with the ongoing problems which have led to the delay of the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP) in Edinburgh and the concerns expressed in relation to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QUEH) in Glasgow; notes the recent KPMG and NSS reports, which have identified the root of shortcomings in ventilation systems in key areas of the new RHCYP and identified a number of other areas to be rectified before the site opens; believes that, following concerns from affected parents, it would be the right step to increase confidence by establishing a public inquiry, under the Inquiries Act 2005 into the new RHCYP and the QEUH site to determine how vital issues relating to ventilation and other matters occurred, how mistakes were made and what steps can be taken to prevent them being repeated in future projects; further believes that the ongoing QEUH Independent Review, and the recent KMPG and NSS reports, will help inform the Inquiry; considers that ministers should update Parliament in the event that there are any significant delays to ongoing NHS projects; understands that construction inflation has been driven significantly in recent times by Brexit and its impact on sterling and on the attractiveness to potential skilled workers to come from the EU to work in Scotland; and welcomes that".

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