Marchers determined to kick the privateer sharks out of the NHS

A health board is paying over a million pounds a month to a private consortium for a hospital it cannot use.

The new children’s hospital in Edinburgh was due to open in July, but last-minute inspections found safety concerns over its ventilation systems.

NHS Lothian has confirmed repayments for the hospital – the equivalent of about £1.4m a month – started when it took over the facility in February.

It is not known when the hospital will be ready to open to patients.

The new Sick Children’s Hospital cost about £150m to build, but its full price tag over the next 25 years will be £432m.

Under the terms of the contract, repayments – which will average about £1.4m a month – began in February when NHS Lothian took possession of the site from private consortium IHSL (Integrated Health Solutions Lothian).

The deal with IHSL to design, build, finance and maintain the new hospital was under the Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) system, the Scottish government’s version of PFI (Private Finance Initiative).

The existing hospital, in the Sciennes area of Edinburgh, remains open – but it has been sold to student housing firm Downing, and it is unclear when the developer wants to take possession of the site.

Tom Waterson, chairman of Unison Scotland’s health committee, said: ‘To add to the serious health and safety concerns in this project, we now find out there is a serious financial penalty for this farce.

‘Every penny is a prisoner in that health board just now and to find out we are paying millions of pounds for a hospital we can’t use is nothing short of scandalous.

‘We need a full independent public inquiry into what has gone wrong. It can’t be left to the Scottish government because they are involved.’

Last month a full safety review into the delayed Sick Children’s Hospital was ordered by the Scottish government. It also announced private consultants KPMG had been hired to establish the factors which led to the delay.

Other safety reviews will be made at other recently completed major NHS facilities across Scotland, including the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, which was built by the same contractor and has also experienced problems with ventilation systems.

The NHS-led review is due to be finished by September and unions fear it will be next year before the Edinburgh hospital is ready to be occupied.

There are concerns over water, ventilation and drainage systems at the facility.