Urgent action demanded over Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital’s cladding

In a letter to the Scottish Government, the party’s leader and Edinburgh Western MSP, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said any “question mark” about the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People’s safety was unacceptable.

The Edinburgh facility has components in its cladding which were also used on Grenfell Tower, where 72 people died in a fire in 2017.

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The new hospital – which was hit by delays due to concerns over the safety and installation of its ventilation system and saw its opening delayed by more than a year and a half – is having compliance checks to ensure the cladding does not pose a health risk, The Scotsman revealed last month.

The new Sick Kids hospital exterior, covered in the potentially dangerous cladding.

Construction of the hospital is already subject to an ongoing public inquiry, but is fully operational after opening in 2021. However, NHS Lothian is carrying out compliance checks.

It comes after the health board discovered the hospital did not fully comply with fire safety building standards when it was built.

NHS Lothian maintains the cladding is safe but a document to executive leadership states building standards were not compliant due to the distance between “cavity barriers”.

These are designed to prevent fire spreading as quickly as it otherwise would and are, the document states, required every ten meters. At the Sick Kids, however, they have only been installed every 20 meters.

In his letter to the health secretary, Humza Yousaf, Mr Cole-Hamilton said the safety concerns were “very concerning” for patients and staff.

He said: “The Grenfell Tower was a modern horror story so it is deeply worrying that a similar cladding is on the walls of one of our children’s hospital.

“Of all the places to have a question mark over its safety, a hospital where parents are sending their sick children to get well, is the most concerning. This is a building that is already subject to an ongoing public inquiry, and now this.

“The government has acknowledged the safety concerns and said they’ll be addressed but they haven’t provided any details as to what will be done, or when any work will be completed.

“Everyone working at, or relying on, the hospital needs to have complete assurance the building they are in is safe. If there’s any question mark about its safety then the government and NHS Lothian need to take action today.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said there was no cladding of “exactly” the same type used on Grenfell on any hospital or high-rise health building in Scotland.

They said: “No cladding of the type used in Grenfell Tower are used in any Scottish hospital, including the Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP).

“NHS Lothian is developing a program of work to ensure all cavity barriers in use at the RHCYP are fully compliant with safety regulations.

“The board has been clear that the hospital is a safe place of care.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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