Belfast Telegraph

Delay to full opening of Royal Victoria Hospital critical care building branded a 'disgrace'

The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast
The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast

A councillor has branded the delay in fully opening the new critical care building at the Royal Victoria Hospital "a disgrace."

The Belfast Trust has confirmed the building won't be fully occupied for another three years.

The new critical care building at the Belfast hospital was due to open all twelve of its floors in 2012.

SDLP west Belfast councillor Tim Attwood said: "The delay in fully opening the Critical Care Building at the Royal Victoria Hospital is a disgrace. Do health officials ever learn?

“Over 30 years ago, Belfast City Hospital opened after major budget overruns and years late.

“Now the new critical care building in RVH still not fully open six years after it was due to open. Is it a case - as with City Hospital in 1983 - it is more ‘economical to delay completion of the project than to try to operate it as a viable economic unit?”

Problems such as draining and ventilation mean parts of the building are off limits to patients and staff.

A Belfast Trust spokesperson admitted the building was over schedule.

"We acknowledge that the Critical Care Building has taken a long time to complete, and given the length of time involved it is important to bring the public up-to-date with the current status of the building," the spokesperson said.

"Having taken possession of the Critical Care Building in 2015 the Trust is working through a list of remedial work to address changes in standards and guidance since the building was designed, defects that were discovered following handover, and improvements to assist in the maintenance in the building.

"The drainage system of the upper floors has been strengthened to ensure that the system can be maintained with limited impact on the clinical area. We are also bringing the ventilation system to the required standard in accordance with guidance before the theatres are put into use."

The spokesperson said that the project had not gone over budget despite the delays.

"Currently levels 1 and 2 contain the Emergency Department(ED) which was opened in 2015 as planned. Previously our ED was housed in temporary accommodation, and it has operated effectively and safely since moving to the new accommodation. Levels 3 and 4 are partially occupied and will house theatres and intensive care later this year," the spokesperson said.

"Levels 7, 8 and 9 have been designated as part of the new maternity hospital and therefore cannot be occupied until the building is completed which is in approximately three years.

"As part of the preparation for opening the new floors we have trained approximately 500 nursing medical and support staff. This is an essential requirement before any building can open, and includes mandatory staff training such as fire training. These staff are currently employed within theatres and ICU delivering direct patient care.

"The project is still within its approval levels of c£150 million."

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