Thursday, November 23, 2006

At least the Titanic was a ship

That's my three shifts done for this week. Back to the blogging.
In a previous post I expressed my concern about the Eye Pavilion being on prime development land. Recently, someone mentioned that it's actually built in the back garden of Chalmers Hospital which was willed to the city by one George Chalmers, who died in 1836. This implied that the land had to be used for medical purposes, and Lothian Health Board wouldn't be able to sell it to redevelopers like they've done with the old RIE.
They didn't get it quite right. Chalmers Hospital is certainly named after George Chalmers, but it wasn't his property. He left money to the Faculty of Advocates for the purpose of building an infirmary. This indeed was built about forty years later, and lasted over a century until its move to Little France in 2002.
It seems that NHS Lothian do have the freedom to sell the site, since as long as an infirmary in Edinburgh still stands, the spirit and letter of George Chalmers bequest is being fulfilled.
Whether the Infirmary will still be standing in twenty years is open to question. The new RIE is funded by the Public (or is is Private) Finance Initiative - PFI. This is how the Government has got a number of hospitals built, without having to show the cost in the public finances. Basically, a private consortium builds the hospital, then charges the Health Trust rent to use it.
The location of the new RIE, called Little France, used to be the site of a caravan park, which used to get flooded regularly. There's a small river running right behind the hospital. They've diverted it with a couple of 90 degree bends. All it will take is a period of heavy rains after a few wet summers, and a fallen tree to jam in the corners, and the nurses and doctors will have to wear wellies to treat casualties.
Everybody in Edinburgh knows it's built on a flood plain. We're just waiting...

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