Barra councillor slates NHS Western Isles for “absurd” £1.8 million oversight in cost of new hospital

The new hospital will replace the current facility, St Brendan’s Hospital and Care Home, but will be located on the same site in Castlebay, Barra.

Barra councillor Donald Manford said it was “absurd” that NHS Western Isles did not know that their chosen site for a new hospital on the island required an additional £1.8 million to remove hidden rock.

The extra expenditure came to light in February of this year, during a meeting of the St Brendan’s project board which was held to consider the submission of a full business case to the Scottish Government.

The original outline business case had to be scrapped in 2014 and a second one submitted in 2017. That second document was approved by the Scottish Government in April last year.

However, at February’s meeting, it emerged that NHS Western Isles and its partner, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, had identified additional costs totalling £4.3 million including £1.8 million for rock removal and offsite crushing.

According to Mr Manford, this places the new hospital in jeopardy as full business cases are unlikely to be approved if their costs are substantially higher than the outline business case.

This week, he said: “It is absurd to think that all the initial work they carried out missed this. It is not credible

“The important thing is that the new hospital is built and if the existing site is problematic then let’s find a new one. Having said that, how can we have confidence in people who never noticed the site was a problem?”

In response to the specific concern about the presence of rock on the existing site, a spokesman for NHS Western Isles said: “In relation to the rock we had additional site investigative work done to support the OBC but, despite this, as we undertook additional design work and more detailed work on rock removal the allowances in the OBC proved insufficient.”

Mr Manford also asked whether NHS Western Isles had subjected the outline business case to a second NHS Scotland design assessment process, as recommended by NHS Scotland chief executive Paul Gray.

NHS Western Isles refused to respond to Free Press‘ questions on this point. However, they did say that the full business case for the new hospital will be submitted to the Scottish Government “some time” after September of this year.

Article by Michael Russell.