Since their appointment, the co-chairs of the independent review have consulted extensively with experts and established systems for stakeholder contact. In line with the Britton report recommendations, at a meeting today they will publicly present the preliminary terms of reference and ask for feedback—they will consult on those. They will also formally seek submissions of evidence and launch the review’s website and contact details. That is all important, because it is critical that a wide range of views and information is considered.
Given that the Royal hospital for children and young people—the sick kids—in Edinburgh is due to open on 9 July and shares the same design concept and is being built by the same contractors as the Queen Elizabeth university hospital, has the cabinet secretary received assurance that the same issues will not be experienced there?
As Ms Ballantyne will know—it is a reply I have given previously in the Parliament—NHS Lothian, for the sick kids hospital in Edinburgh, and other boards where we have new buildings, such as in Orkney, were tasked with ensuring that they had the proper assurance that the immediate lessons that we had learned from the Queen Elizabeth university hospital in relation to air ventilation, water supply and the use of sinks had been applied in the design and construction of those new buildings. We have that assurance.
NHS Lothian did not take ownership of the site until it was absolutely assured that those steps had been taken.
The Queen Elizabeth university hospital is one of Europe’s largest hospitals, with 1,100 patient rooms and 14 floors, and it was built on the site of the Southern general hospital. Why is that acceptable for Glasgow but not for our hospital in Monklands, on which the cabinet secretary has just slapped a “closed” order this morning?
What a pity that Ms Smith did not read the answer to the Government-initiated question that was issued this morning. I have not “slapped a ‘closed’ order” on Monklands hospital; I have repeated this Government’s absolute commitment to sourcing a replacement for it. What I have ruled out is building that replacement on the current site, for a number of reasons that were set out in the GIQ answer.
I will give the member some of those reasons. There is no room around the existing hospital to build a new hospital, so to build a new hospital on that site would require demolition of the current hospital. The current hospital’s capacity could not be picked up in the rest of Lanarkshire, and patients would therefore wait longer for the treatment that they needed. I am sure that, if that happened, Ms Smith would be first person on her feet to criticise it. There would also be a patient safety issue if we were to construct a new build in such close proximity to an operating hospital.
I have required NHS Lanarkshire to ensure that, from the very beginning, its consultation on a range of options—including new options that may have come forward in the most recent period—involves the local communities that the Monklands hospital serves; to ensure that the design that the clinicians have led so well for a new hospital continues to be applied in any new build; and to ensure that all the work is undertaken with some speed while ensuring that the local communities’ voices are well heard and they are part of the decision making before it comes to me.
Those are the facts. Yet again, I would appreciate it if Scottish Labour members would stick to the facts instead of making it up as they go along.