Letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport

Monday August 26th 2019

Jeane Freeman MSP Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport

Jeane Freeman MSP, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport

Jeane Freeman MSP, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport has written an open letter to Michelle Ballantyne, Conservative MSP, following her column in Midlothian View earlier this month. [Read Ms Ballantyne’s column here.]

Dear Michelle,

I refer to your monthly column in Midlothian View published on 13 August about the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP) and would want to highlight significant factual inaccuracy in the column.

As you will be aware, on Tuesday 2 July, NHS Lothian alerted the Scottish Government to an issue with the ventilation system at the RHCYP and I took the decision to halt the planned move to the new hospital on 4 July. I have made clear that my greatest responsibility is the safety of patients, and for this reason I decided to delay the move of patients, staff and services to the new hospital.

Prior to that date, these issues had not been identified despite the various inspections and safety checks which had been undertaken. This is why I instructed KPMG to undertake an independent audit of the governance arrangements for RHCYP to establish the factors that led to the delay. This investigation is currently underway and I expect to update Parliament in September on its findings.

I have also instructed NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) to undertake a detailed assessment of compliance of all building systems which could impact on the safety of patients and staff at the new site. The report is anticipated in September and this assessment will determine the timeframe for when services move to the new hospital, potentially on a phased basis. In the meantime, until the move can take place, safe, effective and high quality clinical services will continue to be delivered from the existing site in Sciennes.

References to a further £90 million cost 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 £11.6 million settlement agreement for drainage, which has already been reviewed by the external auditor at Audit Scotland’s request. The other element included within the £90 million is the £80 million that relates to enabling and equipment works. This formed 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.

I trust that you will now take the necessary steps to correct the inaccuracies highlighted.

Best Wishes,

Jeane Freeman

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