Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (Maintenance Contract)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 8th May 2013.

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Photo of Jim Eadie Jim Eadie Scottish National Party

10. To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with NHS Lothian regarding the maximum level of daily fines that the Royal infirmary of Edinburgh can impose on its maintenance contractor, Consort Healthcare. (S4O-02084)

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

Officials are in regular contact with colleagues in NHS Lothian on a range of issues, including the contract that was signed by NHS Lothian with Consort Healthcare for the Royal infirmary of Edinburgh.

Photo of Jim Eadie Jim Eadie Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary share the alarm that I and people across Edinburgh felt when we learned from this edition of the Edinburgh Evening News that Consort Healthcare could be fined a maximum of only £28.24 per day—

The Presiding Officer:

You can put that advert for the newspaper down.

Photo of Jim Eadie Jim Eadie Scottish National Party

—for serious failures, such as the closure of operating theatres for more than six hours? What further steps will the Scottish Government take to ensure that the growing mood of public outrage at the management of this private finance initiative contract is properly and finally addressed?

The Presiding Officer:

Before you start your answer, cabinet secretary, I should say that the Presiding Officers do not approve of stunts that have been telegraphed in advance.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

My concerns about the PFI contracts for hospitals such as the Royal infirmary, Hairmyres, Wishaw and many others is well and truly on the record. Many aspects of the contracts are costing the public purse very dearly, so much so that the Government down south has abandoned PFI as a method of funding future capital projects. I share many people’s frustration about the cost of the contracts to the public sector. We review them constantly to see if there is any way in which we can reduce the costs to the taxpayer.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I welcome the fact that there are regular discussions between the health secretary’s officials and NHS Lothian. However, to return to the question that Jim Eadie asked, are there any possibilities of changing this particular contract, especially given the huge costs to patient care and to the operation of the Royal infirmary and the problem with cancelled operations and the consequent delays?

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

One of the unacceptable aspects of these contracts, which were signed by the previous Administration when Sarah Boyack was a minister, is that one of the provisions in the contract is that only the contractor can reopen the contract. That is an absurd provision. Frankly, the ministers who signed these contracts have a lot to answer for.