THE field hospital set up to handle coronavirus patients to ensure hospitals were not overloaded will cost at least £7 million to dismantle, The Herald has learned.

Contracts have been published this month showing £4.59m has been awarded so far to convert the Louisa Jordan site in Glasgow back to the Scottish Exhibition Centre (SEC).

However, the costs are expected to rise further to at least £7m, despite not a single patient being treated for coronavirus at the site.

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This is on top of more than £400,000 awarded last September for consultation on how to decommission the facility, which cost £28m to build and millions more 
to run.

According to public contracts, four firms were given a share of £ 4.59m in April to start dismantling the site.

Work has already begun, with vaccinations still taking place at the nearby Hydro venue.

The four firms awarded contracts were Balfour Beatty Group, John Graham Construction, Keir Construction and RFM Health, with no others bidding for the work.

NHS National Services Scotland said the total budget for decommissioning the site was £7.1m, which includes everything needed to convert the facility back to its former iteration as the SEC, including the breakdown of hospital infrastructure and removal of equipment.

Annie Wells, the Conservative MSP and shadow health secretary, said that although the construction of the hospital was necessary, the Scottish Government must ensure costs are monitored and kept to a minimum for its dismantling.

She said: “The NHS Louisa Jordan was established to help ensure NHS Scotland had extra capacity to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and stood ready to do so from 20 April 2020. When we need to be tackling lengthy treatment wait times, the public may raise an eyebrow that the Louisa Jordan is not being used at all.

“Although it may not have been avoidable, this is a substantial amount of money.

“The government must ensure that any costs associated with dismantling the facility are kept to a minimum.”

A spokeswoman for Louisa Jordan said: “ Thanks to the public’s continued efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, the NHS Louisa Jordan was not required to treat COVID inpatients. Since July 2020 the hospital has played a crucial role in supporting the remobilisation of NHS Scotland.”

The hospital was set up in less than two weeks last April due to fears that the coronavirus would overwhelm hospitals and there would not be enough beds for patients in standard facilities.

However it has not been needed to treat coronavirus patients, and has been used instead as a vaccination centre and training facility as well as the site of 32,000 healthcare appointments.

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More than 175,000 people received vaccines at the SEC before it shut its doors at the end of March, while 6,900 staff have been trained at the site.

Work has already begun on dismantling it, with equipment earmarked for health boards all over Scotland.

The Louisa Jordan spokeswoman added that the site “continues to benefit patients across Scotland through the distribution of medical equipment.

“This has so far totalled £4M and this figure will rise by the end of decommissioning.”

She said that services in the Western Isles, Forth Valley, Fife, Lanarkshire, Glasgow and Tayside have benefitted from equipment, and a “complete package of equipment is also earmarked for NHS Highland for the new facilities at Skye, Aviemore, and the new National Treatment Centre in Inverness.”

She added that NHS Lothian facilities have been helped, along with teaching colleges, NHS Scotland Covid testing labs, and the heart failure service run by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde which was started in the Louisa Jordan to tackle waiting times for patients.