A ROOFTOP play area for children being treated in hospital in Scotland has been shut for almost a year amid health and safety concerns.

The new Royal Hospital for Children, which is part of the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, included a roof garden to give young people stuck on wards space and fresh air.

It is situated on the third floor and features multi-coloured asphalt to run around on, a shelter, mini hill and planting.

READ MORE: Hospital apologises after patients belongings 'dumped' during discharge day

However, it has emerged when clinical staff moved in last June they felt extra health and safety precautions were necessary - including raising the height of the fence which surrounds the garden.

Patients have therefore never been allowed out onto the playground.

Work, expected to cost tens of thousands of pounds, is now being undertaken. It is anticipated that patients will finally be permitted to use it for the first time when the hospital marks its first anniversary.

Liz May, of Action for Sick Children Scotland - a charity which belongs to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, said: “The health and safety of children must take priority and as such the hospital is right to close the roof garden.

HeraldScotland:

“However, it is a matter of concern that paediatric inpatients will be denied access to outdoor play. Play has of course a key role in helping children to cope with procedures and interventions and access to play in general will support the child’s recovery.

“Given that play is so important for the physical and mental wellbeing of children we hope that the hospital will do all it can to remedy the situation as quickly as possible and will explore what other play opportunities can be made available for children during this period.”

Two other play parks were included in the plans for the Royal Hospital for Children. One, small, roof garden is available exclusively to patients being treated in a ward for children with severe mental health problems. This too was out of bounds for months amid health and safety issues, but is now in use. A third ground level play park, which was always due to be completed after the main buildings, is due to be officially opened in June.

No papers about the alterations to the third floor play area have been brought before health board NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which oversees the hospital.

READ MORE: Man charged and patients evacuated after fire at Glasgow's new hospital

John Beattie, a former NHS employee who started a petition against the renaming of the Queen Elizabeth hospital after the reigning monarch, said: "I'm saddened to hear that the roof garden hasn't been open for the children due to health and safety reasons. We can only wonder what exactly goes on during the decision-making processes in this hospital. Here was an opportunity to ensure children got the benefit of leaving their rooms for a while to get some fresh air and enjoy a different setting other than being confined to their hospital ward."

NHS GGC said the design and specifications of the new children's hospital, including the rooftop garden, were worked up by a clinical team from the old children's hospital at Yorkhill including then associate medical director Dr Jim Beattie.

The board said: "The contractor Brookfield Multiplex built it to the specification that had been developed and an occupation certificate was awarded on completion.

"Subsequently, when it came time to move into the new hospital in June 2015 the clinical teams, many of them new, evaluated the roof top garden and said that in their opinion they would like to have supplementary health and safety features built in."

The precautions include increasing the perimeter fence from 2m to 2.4m and removing some large planters near to the fence at the roof edge.

NHS GGC said, while no papers about these requests were presented at board meetings, "our board did agree to support the higher safety standard requests being made by the staff."

Brookfield Multiplex is carrying out the alterations on an “hours worked" contract basis and the work is due to be finished by early June.

It is not the first time questions have been raised about access to hospital roof gardens in Glasgow. In 2010 staff revealed the Southern General had a £57,500 roof terrace which staff and patients were not allowed to use.

READ MORE: Hospital apologises after patients belongings 'dumped' during discharge day