A HEALTH board has threatened to take legal action against the consortium responsible for building the new £150 million hospital in Edinburgh for sick children.

NHS Lothian last month warned Integrated Health Solutions Lothian Ltd (IHSL) of a court move over the ventilation design in some of the wards at the facility, which has been delayed.

The board demanded a “substantive response” to the concerns and flagged up the row to the Scottish Government.

NHS Lothian acting chief executive Jim Crombie claimed the parties were “close to a resolution” and said the hospital was “on track” for completion.

However, Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said: “NHS Lothian’s new children’s hospital has been beset by delays with the opening having been pushed back at least twice. Given we learned recently that the board already needs over £30m to continue to current levels of service next year, this latest development for the crisis-hit project will only cause more concerns."

The new purpose-built Royal Hospital for Children and Young People was supposed to open last year, but delays initially pushed back the date to spring this year.

A further update by NHS Lothian, citing factors including the weather and the liquidation of a sub-contractor, resulted in the board saying that the "aim" was to open the hospital in the autumn.

IHSL, which is made up of several companies including construction firm Brookfield Multiplex, is responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining the hospital. IHSL is also known as Project Co.

However, NHS Lothian board papers reveal that an extraordinary meeting of its finance and resources committee (FRC) met last month to discuss the “single item” of the troubled project.

According to the draft minute, the committee considered the options available to the Board to “resolve the residual key issue of ventilation”.

Five recommendations were agreed, including NHS Lothian raising a court action to “force” IHSL to design the ventilation “in accordance with their contractual obligations”.

Once the design has been produced, NHS Lothian stated that the contractor should be obliged to deliver: “If they refuse to do so NHS Lothian could return to court for an order to force them to do so.”

The committee also agreed not to share the decision “until in possession of the view from the Scottish Government”, and backed developing an “urgent communications strategy”.

On March 21, the FRC met again to discuss the row and noted that the deputy chief executive of the board had written to the consortium.

The draft minute stated: “IHS Lothian Ltd responded on the 19th March confirming that they agree with the position outlined in an accompanying letter from Multiplex and that Multiplex would defend the proceedings referred to in the Board’s letter of 13th March in the name of Project Co.”

According to the minute, the Board again warned the consortium that they could instruct solicitors to lodge a court summons and said the Board had yet to receive a revised programme for completion.

The committee noted the Scottish Government’s “scrutiny” of NHS Lothian’s approach, and the minute added that a court action for an interim order, if pursued, would be carried out on March 26th.

Crombie told the Sunday Herald: ‘We had concerns over work relating to the ventilation system in some wards which is essential to meet the clinical, operational and functional needs of the hospital. In projects of this scale and complexity it is not unusual for there to be technical challenges and if necessary we were ready to take legal steps to ensure these requirements were met.

“However, we have had significant productive engagement with IHS Lothian Ltd over this matter in recent weeks and are confident we are close to a resolution. Together we are progressing delivery of this world class facility and the project remains on track for completion in the Autumn.”

Scottish Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “For a project as important as this we need to ensure that it is built to the highest standards, and for the sake of the patients that will use the new sick kids hospital we need to see a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are continuing to liaise with NHS Lothian to ensure everything possible is being done to ensure the new hospital opens as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for IHSL said: “No comment.”