Parts of Aberdeen’s under-construction Baird and Anchor hospitals could need multi-million-pound redesigns amid fears over patient safety.
Building began in August 2021, but new concerns about the water and ventilation systems have been raised by infection control experts in recent months.
Health bosses have admitted these teams could not fully review the plans before ground was broken.
They had “no capacity” because they were prioritising efforts around the Covid pandemic.
NHS Grampian has now pushed back the opening dates of both facilities – warning they could need even more time if changes are required.
What needs to change?
A report going before Thursday’s NHS Grampian board meeting says the delays are, in part, due to recent involvement from its infection control and prevention staff.
At the height of the Covid pandemic these teams “did not have sufficient capacity” to be involved in the process.
“The critical work protecting services that were operational had to take priority,” the report says.
It has revealed four main areas where redesign is “being considered”:
- Ventilation in the Anchor treatment centre and Baird neonatal unit
- Water systems in both hospitals, including sinks and taps
- Access for maintenance and cleaning, particularly at height
- And sign-offs from stakeholders
What happens next?
Health bosses say the process for remedying these issues is already under way.
But it, along with the ongoing “abnormal market conditions”, have added another £16m to the bill.
The total cost for the Baird and Anchor project now sits at £261.1m – more than double the original £120m estimate.
It’s hoped the extra cash will come from the Scottish Government.
The original design was agreed in 2016 and both hospitals were initially planned to open in 2020.
Other setbacks have included difficulties with construction during Covid and changes required following delays with Edinburgh children’s hospital.
Bosses say it will take “some months” to finalise the new plans, and have set out a new timeline of events.
- Anchor Centre opening: Was September 2023, now October 2023
- Baird Family Hospital opening: Was May 2024, now September 2024
- Aberdeen Maternity Hospital demolition: Was December 2024, now February 2025.
The report notes that any further design changes could cause even longer delays.
More information is expected to be brought before the NHS Grampian board in June.
Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett said the delays are “extremely concerning”.
But said the process is necessary to avoid issues like those seen at Edinburgh children’s hospital in 2019.
“This announcement is yet another blow to patients who have been badly let down by these repeated delays,” he said.
“We have been promised answers on Thursday and as a matter of public interest these should be published in full as a matter of urgency after the NHS Grampian board meeting.”