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Hairmyres hospital 'proof of progress' in improving NHS

03/09/2001

The new £67.5 million Hairmyres Hospital, built in partnership between the NHS and the private sector, was opened today.

Conducting the official opening, First Minister Henry McLeish hailed it as proof of the benefits to patients by the Executive's pragmatic approach to improving health services.

The new site provides staff and patients with vastly improved long-term facilities, and replaces outdated buildings on the old Hairmyres site.

This major building project - one of the largest new hospitals to open in Scotland in decades - was delivered on time and on budget and opened to patients in March.

Speaking as he met staff and contractors at the official opening, Mr McLeish said:

"We believe in improving our vital public services in Scotland. Nowhere is that principle more important than in the renewal of our NHS and the delivery of long-term improvements in health and health services.

"This hospital is an excellent example of how partnership is delivering new facilities fit for 21 st century NHS staff and patients. As a hospital it offers a quality of environment and level of equipment to compare favourably with anything built in Europe. Those facilities are there to support the excellent NHS staff who have moved to this new site from previous buildings that frankly were not up to the job.

"Like any major new building, there have been some initial difficulties. Most of those problems would have happened irrespective of how the building was funded. The majority of then have been resolved or are in the process of being resolved. I hope that today's official opening will be an occasion for genuine pride, an opportunity to draw a line under short-term problems, and to look forward to decades of high-quality care delivered by staff working on this site.

"A partnership between the NHS and a range of private sector contractors has delivered this building. The task now is for a new partnership, of patients, management and frontline staff, to exploit the full potential of this facility for the benefit of the community here in Lanarkshire.

"We have embarked on the largest hospital building programme in the history of the NHS in Scotland. We did so because the facilities and infrastructure of parts of the NHS - the mixed sex wards, the Nightingale wards, the Nissen Huts - were no longer fit for purpose or fit for patients.

"There are tough choices and hard decision to be made. We have committed huge public funding to projects where it has made sense to do so - new wards in Edinburgh, a maternity unit for Glasgow, and new hospital for Benbecula. Step by step we are building for the long term. We have entered partnerships with the private sector where it is appropriate - here at Hairmyres, along the road in Wishaw, and with Edinburgh's new Royal Infirmary. Without that partnership we simply would not be able to rebuild all the hospitals we need.

"We have an NHS workforce to be proud of. We have standards of care and innovation in treatment to be proud of. Now, with investment in a national rebuilding programme, we are delivering facilities to be proud of."

NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS

1. Hairmyres Hospital - developed as a public private partnership - is the second of 8 new hospital developments to open under the Executive's Programme for Government. This marks the largest rebuilding programme in the history of the NHS in Scotland with around half a billion pounds being invested in total.

2. The new Hairmyres Hospital opened to its first patients on Sunday 25 March 2001. It has 364 inpatient and 52 day case beds. Around £10 million of public capital resources have been invested to equip the hospital with leading-edge technology.

3. For more information on the hospital, please contact Karon Hamilton at Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust on 01698-574 019.