Cancer wards closed at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Children after patients developed infections will not re-open until next year due to delays to a major upgrade of the ventilation system caused by the pandemic, the government has said.

Wards 2A and 2B at the hospital were closed in September 2018 after a number of patients developed infections linked to contaminated water, with patients moved to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on the same site.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told local MSPs and MPs that there have been ‘significant challenges with supply chains and the continued effects of social distancing during construction works’.

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She said the government is still awaiting the finalised programme, but that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) is now expecting work to be completed in May 2021, more than a year later than expected.

The board said parents have been informed and said the upgrade will deliver 'one of the safest hospital environments in the UK.'

Anas Sarwar, Labour MSP for Glasgow, said: “This further delay is disappointing for patients and their families.

“This is about rebuilding confidence and restoring trust."

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said: "We continue to work to complete the significant programme of works within Wards 2A and 2B to deliver what will be one of the safest environments within the UK and ensure we are taking every possible measure to reduce the likelihood of infection for patients treated in the unit.  

"Unfortunately, the schedule for the works has been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

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"Based on Scottish Government guidance for the construction sector and social distancing, current forecasts suggest the works will be completed in May 2021 although this may of course be impacted further by the ongoing response to the pandemic."

"We know that this will be disappointing news for parents and staff alike and we offer assurance of our absolute commitment to delivering this project safely and as quickly as possible.

"While this major multi-million capital programme is ongoing, we have also taken the opportunity to replace the air handling units for the Bone Marrow Transplant areas within wards 2A/B.

"We believe this is the best course of action to build in resilience, and avoid any intermittent disruptions to patient care which could be caused if the current system’s performance were to become unreliable at some point in the future. 

"This upgrade will run alongside existing work and will not impact on the project’s completion date."