Belfast Telegraph

Wait for Belfast hospital building to fully open to hit eight years

The critical care building which was initially supposed to open in 2012, has been delayed once again.
The critical care building which was initially supposed to open in 2012, has been delayed once again.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Like the ever-expanding waiting lists for treatment, the opening of a supposed state-of-the art facility at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital has been further delayed.

The intensive care unit is not now expected to open until at least the autumn of 2020, eight years since the ribbon was supposed to cut, the BBC reports.

One doctor described the latest set back as "extremely disappointing".

The facility is part of a 12-storey building in the grounds of the hospital which has been dogged by draining and ventilation problems over the years.

Over the intervening years since its original date of opening, facilities have had to be ripped out and replaced and rooms reorganised to bring them up to current standards despite never being used.

The building also includes the emergency department which has been in operation since 2015. Other floors are to house the new maternity unit, which is scheduled to open in 2022.

Last February, it was reported the building would not be fully opened for at least another seven months. However, the Belfast Trust said at the time the project was still within its £150m budget. The Department for Health said that remained the case and the project would be reviewed on completion.

However, it is understood millions have been spent over the years because of the issues.

Consultant Dr Brian McCluskey told the BBC that while patients were being well cared for in the existing facility "it would be nice if they were getting the additional privacy and dignity".

Sinn Fein said the Belfast Health Trust needed to be more transparent over the ongoing delays.

“The continued frustration and delays are felt by staff and patients alike," said MLA Pat Sheehan, "It is demoralising to many of the hard-working staff to hear that the completion date slips again and again.

“There are serious questions that need to be answered by the Belfast Trust, as to how so much public money has been wasted, sometimes on equipment which has never been used but has gone out-of-date.

“This at a time when we constantly hear that health budgets are stretched and facing pressures. The considerable amount of money wasted could be could be spent in other areas of the health service.

“In December 2018, at the Belfast Trust’s board meeting, it was stated that the facility would be transferred in Jan 2019. This clearly is not the case and the questions have to be asked as to how the transparent the Trust is being and how under control this project actually is.”

The Belfast Trust said: "We are disappointed with this further delay in being able move the Intensive Care Unit in to the Critical Care Building.  Our plans to move ICU into Level 5 and 6 of the building will be delayed by approximately 12 months as the result of a required upgrade to the ventilation system. We will undertake this work to ensure the building is future proofed to provide the highest quality care for patients for many years to come.”

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