STATE-of-the-art brain surgery theatres have been lying empty for more than a year at Glasgow's super hospital site after failing critical safety checks.

The £7m operating facilities at the Imaging Centre for Excellence (ICE) were expected to open in February 2018, but have been delayed after the ventilation systems failed vital tests.

The four new theatres, based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus (QEUH) were supposed to replace the older theatres in the nearby neurosciences building, which have been plagued with raw sewage leaks and plumbing issues since at least 2015.

Initially they were due to open in 2017, but this was later revised to 2018.

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Brain and spinal surgeries were cancelled in the Institute of Neurosciences after reports of raw sewage running down the walls, with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde saying at the time "The board has already awarded a £7m contract to build a new state-of-the-art theatre suite, which will be ready in early 2017."

It is understood the latest issues with the ventilation were picked up just as the facilities were being prepared to be handed over to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, putting the move on hold.

Critics have now called for health secretary Jeane Freeman to investigate the two-year delay - the latest scandal to hit the QEUH campus, following an outbreak of Cryptococcus linked to the death of 10-year-old cancer patient in December.

Mucorales, another rare fungal infection, also infected two patients at the QEUH in January with pensioner Mito Kaur later dying after becoming infected with it. The 63-year-old had been in hospital with pneumonia.

A Government inquiry and an internal NHS inquiry are now underway, focusing on the design and commissioning of the new hospital building.

Watchdogs Health Protection Scotland also released a critical report into some of the problems at the £842m super hospital following an inspection in January.

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One senior employee at NHSGGC told the Herald on Sunday: "They have spent millions getting these theatres up to spec so they could move patients out of the theatres which have got faeces leaking in them.

"They've failed once again. Here we have a situation where questions have to be asked about who is supervising this work, who decided on the specifications needed and why were these concerns not addressed at the design stage and or in building when the facility was being constructed?

"All this money has been spent and the facilities have failed at the end of it. I believe there are other problems too, that the theatres are not big enough, for example.

"How can we, once again, have a situation where there are potential ventilation problems inherent within the building itself, that cannot be fixed easily? It is an utter disaster.

"Many people here are shaking their heads, they just can't understand how this has happened. Is it problems with management? Are there fundamental issues with how building projects are being done here? It is starting to look like it. It's isn't a one-off."

Original plans for the project on the NHSGGC website gave an expected opening date of January 20 2017, with the theatres hoped to provide "facilities which are fit for purpose supporting staff in providing a 21st century clinical service" and "good quality design."

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The health board also agreed to appoint three technical advisors to the project, who would report back on the process of the build and "ensure that the contract is being administered correctly", according to documents.

The University of Glasgow, which owns the ICE building and is managing the project, has now apologised for the delay but refused to provide further details on the extent of the problems other than acknowledge there had been "a number of technical issues" with the project.

The building is also home to a research centre, Scotland's only Tesla MRI scanner, and, according to the university, is "strengthening Glasgow’s position as a world leader in precision medicine".

Politicians have now called for cabinet secretary for health Jeane Freeman to "restore public confidence" and questioned whether she was aware of the delays.

Freeman toured the facility in August 2018, along with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde chief Jane Grant and Glasgow University Principal Sir Anton Muscatelli.

Monica Lennon, Labour's health spokeswoman said: "It’s frankly shocking that a multi-million pound state of the art facility, intended to save lives, has been lying empty for over a year.

“The public will rightly be outraged that this problem has been allowed to persist for so long. These latest revelations do nothing to restore confidence in the safety and running of the QEUH.

“It raises a number of serious questions about when and how long the Scottish Government have been aware of this issue, and whether this latest mishap will be included in the independent review of the construction of the hospital.

“I’ll be raising these matters with the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to seek urgent clarification.”

Miles Briggs, health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives added: "This whole project once again just highlights the SNP’s mismanagement of our Scottish NHS and the incompetence which has become the hallmark of this SNP Government. What is really unacceptable though is the fact that it is Scottish patients and their families who are really being failed.

"At a time when NHS waiting times are increasing this latest construction failure and delay to open new theatre capacity will anger patients.

“Questions clearly need to be asked over why this £7m state-of-the-art operating theatres have been lying empty for more than a year.

“This latest mismanaged project is also hugely embarrassing for SNP Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman who visited the centre last year, and obviously failed to ask why no operations were actually taking place in these new theatres."

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the health spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats said: "Anyone waiting for a neurological procedure in Greater Glasgow and Clyde will be rightly astonished and appalled to learn this.

"This comes after a string of hugely damaging revelations about the safety attached to new build projects in the NHSGGC estate.

"It is vital that the cabinet secretary move to restore public confidence and ensure that these expensive facilities are operational as soon as it is safe for them to do so."

A spokeswoman for the University of Glasgow said: "The building was a collaboration between the University and the NHS and includes research facilities, along with a floor of operating theatres.

"We have been working closely with the NHS to resolve a number of technical issues. The delay in handing over the operating theatres has been unfortunate and we apologise for this, but our focus has been on ensuring that the facilities are completed to the highest possible standard.

"The work is now at an advanced stage and we are hopeful it will be completed within the next few weeks."

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said as the project was the responsibility of the University of Glasgow, they were unable to comment on the delays.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "This project is being led by the University of Glasgow and has not received any direct funding from the Scottish Government.

"We are aware of the delay but understand work to deliver these state-of-the-art facilities is now at an advanced stage and is expected to be completed within the next few weeks."