TAXPAYERS will pay an extra £16 million for remedial works to Edinburgh's new children's hospital after it emerged that the original blueprint for the facility's ventilation design was flawed.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said she was "bitterly disappointed" by the error, which dates back to documents from 2012 but was only discovered in June this year.

Plans to open the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP) in July were axed after inspectors discovered the problem. The hospital was first due to open in July 2017.

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In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Freeman said work to bring the site up to required standards will cost the Scottish Government an estimated £16m, taking the total cost to taxpayers to more than £450m.

Ms Freeman added that the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, which will share the site, should be operational from spring 2020, but paediatric patients will not be admitted until autumn 2020.

She said: “My overriding priority is that the children and families who depend on these hospital services can receive them in the safest way possible.

"The current situation is not one anyone would choose – but it is one I am determined to resolve.”

An independent report by KPMG found that the problem with ventilation in the critical care department stemmed from an error in a document produced by NHS Lothian and distributed to bidders during the tender stage in 2012.

It wrongly set out a requirement of four air changes per hour in single-bed cubicles and four-bed rooms when compliance with the Scottish Health Technical Memoranda (SHTM) required 10 per hour to minimise infection risk for the sickest patients.

KPMG said opportunities to spot the error were missed as far back as November 2016, but that NHS Lothian "did not consider it their responsibility to ensure compliance".

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They believed this fell to IHSL Ltd, the private consortium who had won the contract to design and build the facility.

In addition, the Independent Tester appointed to certify that the design had been built in accordance with the specifications agreed by NHS Lothian and IHSL Ltd told KPMG that it "did not consider that it was responsible for reviewing [the specifications'] accuracy".

A separate independent review carried out by NHS National Services Scotland has identified additional design flaws. It found that "theatre ventilation appears not to have been installed in accordance with current guidance", posing a risk of contamination.

Surgery could also be disrupted as the current design of the ventilation system meant that "maintenance might entail the loss of two theatres rather than one".

The report also noted the potential for the basement drainage pump, near the kitchen, to fail. It added: "The risk is that if these fail the kitchen drains will back up requiring the kitchen to close, which would have an impact of food services to the hospital."

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Finally, water testing detected pseudamonas aeruginosa, a pathogen which causes severe acute and chronic infections, on 10 per cent of taps checked. NHS NSS said all taps should be disinfected, retested, and potentially replaced.

The report also noted that there is no record that a number of actions recommended following the hospital's Legionella risk assessment, undertaken in February 2019, have been acted upon.

NHS Lothian has already paid IHSL Ltd an extra £11.6m for previous remedial works, and is currently paying £1.35 million a month in leasing and management fees under the terms of the PFI-style Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) model used to fund the hospital's construction.

Tim Davison, chief executive of NHS Lothian, apologised to staff and patients for the delay.

He added: “We accept the findings of the KPMG report in full. We have also produced a detailed action plan in response to the NHS NSS report and work is already well underway to implement it.

"We will continue to work constructively with Scottish Government to progress towards opening as soon as possible.”

The Scottish Government said a senior programme director will be appointed to handle day-to-day delivery of the RHCYP until the site is fully occupied.