Countdown to handover of new Edinburgh hospital


Royal Victoria Building nears completion as elderly patients prepare for move

There is just five weeks to go until the planned handover of the £43.6m purpose-built new Royal Victoria Building on the site of the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

Patients will move from the old Royal Victoria Hospital to the new facility in June, with the building fully operational later in the year. This means the original unit will no longer be needed and NHS Lothian has announced its plans to sell it off.

Jackie Sansbury, chief operating officer at the health board, said: “We are rapidly approaching the handover date of the new building. It is an exciting time for staff, patients and NHS Lothian as a whole.

“Services will be relocated to the new building and patients will move in to the facility in the summer. Other services and facilities will be transferred on to other sites and plans have been developed to make sure the process is as swift, streamlined and efficient as possible.

“It means that the Royal Victoria Hospital site will no longer be required and we have made arrangements to put it up for sale.”

The new Royal Victoria Building was commissioned following a review of older people’s services in January 2002 and an extensive public consultation two years later.

Approval was granted in early 2010 for medical services for patients over 65 years of age to be moved and provided in a new facility.

The new building has been designed to provide the highest quality healthcare services in a modern setting and will consist only of 100% single rooms to promote privacy and dignity.

Construction work, led by contractor, Laing O’Rourke, began in May 2010 and the first patients, which will also include dermatology and rheumatology patients, will arrive in June.

“It will be a landmark in healthcare history when it opens, becoming the first unit of its kind in Scotland,” said Sansbury.

The current Royal Victoria Hospital also took its place in history when it was founded in 1894 by Sir Robert William Philip, who turned the Georgian mansion house into the first sanatorium for tuberculosis north of the border.

He was a pioneer in the treatment of tuberculosis and was acutely aware that at the time there was no known treatment for the disease, apart from fresh air and fresh food, both of which were out of reach of many residents of Edinburgh.

He created a sanatorium in the rented Craigleith House in the west end of the city to operate in conjunction with his world-first dispensary. A farm was later added to the portfolio to produce the fresh food Philip believed necessary for recovery.

In 1889, he bought the house and 60-acre grounds and began developing new facilities to meet increasing demand and, in 1911, it achieved Royal status.

Over the years the hospital was extended with the creation of the new buildings, such as the administration block and day centre to its current stage.

It was recognised during the review and public consultation that the buildings could be improved and that a more suitable patient and staff environment could be better provided elsewhere.

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The former day hospital, which suffered severe damage during recent storms, has already been demolished.