NICOLA Sturgeon came under fire over delays to Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital as opponents called for “heads to roll” over the crisis.

During the first FMQs since it emerged that the troubled Royal Hospital for Children and Young People will not open until autumn 2020 and cost taxpayers an extra £16 million, there were fresh calls for a public inquiry into what went wrong.

Plans to begin admitting paediatric patients in July were axed just days before the opening date after inspectors discovered that ventilation in critical care did not meet required standards.

SKETCH: Health Warning 

An independent report by KPMG, published on Wednesday, found that the error stemmed from 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.

However, KPMG said several opportunities to spot the problem over the following seven years were missed.

Scottish Tories’ acting leader Jackson Carlaw said the situation was an “absolute shambles”.

He said: “This is a saga from which nobody emerges well. Not the health board, not the contractor and certainly not this Government - and it’s altogether sadly too predictable.

“I think the country thinks - for once - heads should roll.”

HeraldScotland: Camley's Cartoon: Children's hospital is delayedCamley's Cartoon: Children's hospital is delayed

A business case for the new hospital was first submitted to the SNP government in 2008, with a proposed opening date of 2012, but the project was shelved due to lack of money.

It was later reinvigorated following a decision to fund it through the Scottish government’s PFI-style non-profit distributing model (NPD), and a revised draft plan was signed off in spring 2012.

The design and build contract was awarded to a private consortium, IHSL Ltd, but the construction was blighted by delays and a planned opening date of mid-2017 had to be abandoned.

Earlier this year NHS Lothian was forced to pay £11.6m to the consortium to fix a number of problems with the build, including drainage. NHS Lothian insisted that the issues were “non-compliant with the original contractual requirements”, but backed down from taking legal action following expert advice that it would be too risky.

The First Minister told MSPs that the latest delays were “unacceptable”.

She said: “To say that the Health Secretary and I are angry at this situation would be an understatement and I know that anger is shared by patients and staff.”

Ms Sturgeon pledged “closer scrutiny and oversight” on the project.

She said: “The focus of the Scottish Government is on putting this right.

“We will not allow the hospital to open until we are satisfied about patient safety.”

She added: “There has been substantial work done over the summer to make sure any other issues have been identified.

“I deeply regret that the hospital will be opening late - extremely late - and it is important that we make sure that every issue that has been identified is addressed so that when it does open it is safe for the patients who use that hospital.”

READ MORE: Taxpayers face £16m bill to fix children's hospital after ventilation error went unnoticed for SEVEN years 

A separate report on the Edinburgh children’s hospital by NHS National Services Scotland, which was also published on Wednesday, highlighted a number of other design flaws and safety risks.

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.”

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 before the hospital opens.

In the meantime, NHS Lothian must continue to pay £1.35 million a month to IHSL Ltd in leasing and management fees as part of its 25-year contract, taking the total cost of the project for taxpayers to more than £450m.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard reiterated calls for a public inquiry.

“We’ve got a children’s hospital in Edinburgh that can’t open its doors and we were reminded at the weekend that we have a hospital in Glasgow, built by the same contractor, that has been closing its doors to a children’s cancer ward,” he said.

“We need to get to the bottom of this. We need full public transparency to restore public trust so what will it take for the First Minister to finally listen and deliver a full public inquiry into this abject failure of governance and government?”

READ MORE: Family of QEUH cancer patient says there is 'no trust left' amid infections row 

Australian construction giant, Brookfield Multiplex, were appointed by IHSL Ltd to take charge of design and build on the RHCYP in Edinburgh.

The firm also designed and built Glasgow’s superhospital, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Children, which are currently at the centre of a review in to their design, build, commissioning and maintenance following a spate of infections.

The Crown Office is investigating the deaths in December 2018 and January this year of two cancer patients - a 10-year-old boy and a woman, aged 73 - who both contracted infections at the QEUH linked to pigeon droppings.

Two paediatric cancer wards at the RHC were also closed in September 2018 following a spate of infections linked to the water supply. Children were relocated to the adult hospital for treatment.

However, the Herald revealed on Monday that 13 infection cases have been reported since April among child being treated for cancer at the QEUH.

The row at FMQs came as experts today visited sewage works close to the Glasgow superhospital as part of the ongoing infections probe.

Dr Brian Montgomery and Dr Andrew Fraser went to Shieldhall Water treatment plant after members of the public complained about its “quite potent smell”.

Operating theatres at the QEUH have been forced to close at times due to the stench from the sewage works in hot weather.

The pair are co-chairing the investigation into whether the design, build, commissioning and maintenance of the QEUH and RHC, which opened in 2015, has increased the risk of patients contracting healthcare-associated infections.

The review team stressed that there should be no safety risk from the sewage works as a number of hospitals have previously been located close to major wastewater treatment sites, including the former Southern General Hospital on which the QEUH now sits.

Dr Montgomery said: “Clearly there are concerns relating to its proximity to the QEUH. If we are to fully address public confidence issues we would be remiss not to explore any health links associated with the site as part of our review.

“Smell alone will not cause an infection risk but we felt that we should look into this and any associated issues.To date, nothing of concern has been uncovered.”

Dr Fraser added: “A second visit is being planned in September to discuss monitoring data. We also plan to visit the local recycling facility.”