I’m angry with Nicola Sturgeon’s refusal to give a straight answer today on the two year delay for Edinburgh’s Sick Kids hospital.
The delay is because the Scottish Government has required NHS Lothian to work through the Scottish Futures Trust to come up with a funding scheme which we all know will be some form of PPP. Lessons must be learned from the deeply flawed PFI contract that the Tories put in place for the ERI so we need to see what’s being proposed.
I raised the fact that Labour MSP George Foulkes had asked submitted a FOI request to find out what advice the SFT had actually given NHS Lothian – but the reply blanked out all the information! I asked why we weren’t allowed to see the advice. No answer. Although the Health Secretary was asked by MSPs from different parties to set a timescale and commit to funding the project before the election in May – she was evasive and refused to commit to sign off the project.
In her own consituency she’s been happy to approve an £850m investment in the Southern General, but we’re obviously not high enough up her list of priorities in Edinburgh and the Lothians. If you were cynical you might think that having used conventional public spending to fund the Southern General, if the SNP are in opposition after May they will criticise the next government for building the Sick Kids and Neurosciences Unit by PPP. I’d be happy to have my suspicions proved wrong.
The longer the project sits waiting the more costs are likely to rise with inflation and the danger is that Edinburgh children miss out on the opportunities brought by a new, modern hospital and the high quality, integrated services that could be delivered.