Delayed hospital staffing costs hit almost £140,000 per month

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

Staffing costs at the delayed Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh have amounted to almost £140,000 a month.

NHS Lothian bosses revealed that between March to August last year the staffing bill at the hospital came to £834,000 – the equivalent of £139,000 a month over the period.

There were 137 domestic, catering and logistics staff employed on either a full-time or part-time basis.

The costs were revealed in answer to a freedom of information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, with party health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton complaining the “colossal costs of the sick kids ghost hospital continue to grow”.

Advertisement

NHS Lothian has been paying £1.35m a month for the new hospital since February 2019, when the property was formally handed over.

It was due to open in July 2019, but health secretary Jeane Freeman halted the move from the existing hospital site after final compliance checks revealed the ventilation system within the critical care department of the new building did not meet the necessary standards.

As well as spending on staff, NHS Lothian has also incurred more than £10,000 in costs training the security/helipad response team.

The figures were made public days after Brian Houston stepped down as chairman of NHS Lothian.

Advertisement

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Patients and the public will be dismayed to find the colossal costs of the sick kids ghost hospital continue to grow.

“They’ve been in possession of an empty building for 11 months, at a cost of over £12m so far.

“Now we discover we’re shelling out £140,000 a month on top of that to have staff help run and cater a hospital without a single patient.”

He added: “It’s unbelievable how much money has been wasted in this project because of sloppy management and systematic failings.

“The Scottish Government needs to ensure there is full transparency about how much money is being poured into this project and it must continue to provide updates on the remedial work and when patients will actually be able to use the new facilities.”

George Curley, NHS Lothian director of facilities, said: “Between March and July, staff were preparing for the opening of the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and as soon as the extent of the delay became clear, staffing was reviewed to ensure that the personnel on site were required to be there.

“Many of the team have multi-faceted roles and were assigned new positions across multiple sites, including the existing Royal Hospital for Sick Children, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the new building.

Advertisement

“We have a number of staff on site to look after the daily maintenance and logistical needs of the building, while security is a significant issue.

“The heli-deck team is made up of some of those staff, who work in logistics and security on a day-to-day basis, but have been specifically trained to assist with the helicopter as and when required.

“The canteen, which has a minimal staff, works to maintain operational knowledge and produces food for other sites, serves contractors, staff from the RIE and people taking part in some of the many planned visits.”

A public inquiry has already been announced to examine issues at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “NHS Lothian have now identified a qualified and appropriate contractor to undertake the remedial works necessary to resolve the identified issues.

“We are continuing our work to deliver the new hospital in the timelines set out, and look forward to it opening as soon as is safely possible.

“While the new building remains closed, many of these staff are still working in the current RHSC or on other sites. This has been done with in partnership with staff and will be kept under review.”