A new service within the Scottish NHS has been set up to improve quality and management within major construction projects in the healthcare sector.
NHS Scotland Assure will make sure newly built or refurbished buildings are designed with infection control standards in mind.
Commissioned by the Scottish Government and established by NHS National Services Scotland, the new service will bring in expertise from microbiologists, architects, planners and engineers.
The government says it will improve patient safety and ensure cohesion between healthcare and construction teams.
It comes after lengthy delays to the opening of the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh, caused by the building’s ventilation system initially failing to meet infection control standards.
The new Sick Kids hospital eventually opened in March this year.
A report released last week also said there were “significant failings” around infection prevention and control at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “NHS Scotland Assure will support a culture of collaboration and transparency to provide the reassurance patients and their families deserve to feel safe in our hospitals.
“This service is unique to Scotland and is leading the way in risk and quality management across healthcare facilities.
“With services designed with patients in mind, we can make a real, positive difference to people’s lives.”
Gordon James, director of procurement at National Services Scotland, said: “We co-designed NHS Scotland Assure with colleagues to improve quality and reduce risk in our healthcare buildings and facilities across Scotland.
“NHS Scotland Assure will work collaboratively with health boards to make sure our buildings are compliant with the best available guidance and evidence.”
Commenting on the new body, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Any effort to improve the construction of hospitals and patient safety is to be welcomed, but it is extraordinary that it took scandals at two crucial hospitals for it to be considered.
“As the tragic cases at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital demonstrate, any commitment to patient safety by professionals can be undermined by politicians more interested in delivering headlines than high-quality healthcare.
“So, the Scottish Government must urgently confirm what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that safety concerns can’t be hidden from the public eye by scrutiny averse NHS bureaucrats or self-interested politicians.
“Without those reassurances it is hard to see this as much more than a PR exercise.”
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