FAILING AND DELAYED procurement projects are burning a very big hole in Scottish taxpayers’ pockets – SNP ministers can’t seem to stop themselves from scuppering contracts they oversee themselves.
The scandal of the CalMac ferry contract is a good example. In 2015 the SNP chose the highest bidder, the shipyard Ferguson Marine, to build two ferries. Constriction began before design was completed and six years later the ferries are still not complete and a £97 million contract is now expected to cost at least £230 million.
The £840 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, which eventually opened in 2015, was another SNP procurement disaster, with sewage leaking into operating theatres and a series of other dangerous contamination problems. At least four people died as a consequence. Infections caused by pigeon droppings spreading through contaminated air vents caused the deaths of two patients. Staff had raised concerns about safety but were ignored. For example, in 2014, before the hospital opened, a consultant microbiologist raised issues in writing but was told, “you’re new to Glasgow, but here we don’t put things in writing because of inquiries and things.” The SNP has since been forced to appoint a public inquiry but these take time and will not report until well after the May 2021 elections.
Other procurement disasters include the saga of the sick children’s hospital in Little France, Edinburgh, which was originally due to open in 2012, but only opened at the end of March after incessant delays over the last decade. It was originally meant to cost £150 million, but faults in the air conditioning and drainage systems not only delayed opening, but added a further £90 million to the bill while it lay empty. An inquiry into the repeated failure of the Edinburgh hospital is due to begin in September 2021.