Together with parliamentary colleagues Alex Cunningham and Mike Hill, I met with senior officers of the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Mental Health Trust today at Roseberry Park Hospital to discuss and see at first hand some of the problems that continue to beset the regions flagship mental health facility.
I was completely dismayed at the failures to meet anything like acceptable construction standards. The list of defects in a brand new hospital from defective roofs to plumbing problems and much, much more besides is as long as your arm. The main construction contractor’s dreadful record reveals an almost cavalier attitude to proper construction standards and more worryingly to safety and security. It will cost a fortune to put this right.
Three Valleys Health is the PFI company that ultimately bears responsibility for the appalling work in the building of this key metal health facility. The company was formed for the sole purpose of building, delivering and then managing the hospital, but they have singularly failed in delivering what the contract demanded.
The building contractor Laing O’Rourke should be utterly ashamed of themselves for such shoddy workmanship, as should the facility management company Carillion. But how any of this work was ever passed as satisfactory is beyond me.
Fundamental remedial works are now necessary but the positives are the way in which the staff have responded going the extra mile, and many more besides, carrying on their work at Roseberry Park and moving to work in Hartlepool where some patients are being transferred to on a phased basis whilst remedial works are undertaken. They are totally professional and dedicated and they deserve our huge thanks and admiration.
Similarly when concerns were highlighted about fire safety, Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service have pulled out all the stops to ensure that patient safety isn’t compromised.
At the end of the day, the Trust contracted for a state of the art mental health facility. Whilst such a facility might have been designed, sadly that is not what was built.
The legal processes are underway to bring the PFI contract to an end and force Three Valleys to deliver what they promised, namely a fully functioning hospital fit for purpose.
This isn’t going to be resolved overnight but I am impressed at the way in which the Trust is trying to resolve this situation. The costs that they have incurred, and continue to occur, are racking up and ultimately Three Valleys Health, and the banks that are behind them, have to make sure that our mental health trust is not out of pocket.
Some of the issues that have been revealed in the Roseberry Park fiasco have echoes in the interim Grenfell inquiry, not least being the way in which the whole issue of building regulation is implemented and policed.
The inspection system failed in Grenfell and it failed at Roseberry Park as well. Thankfully patients and staff at Roseberry Park are safe but these things should never have happened.
Together with my colleagues, I will continue to keep a very close eye on developments, but it would be good to receive an acknowledgement from Three Valleys and Laing O’Rourke that they bear the full financial responsibility here and they will do the right thing and do whatever it takes to put the job right.