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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Royal launch for PFI hospital
Princess Royal at the ERI
The Princess Royal toured the wards
The new Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has been officially opened by the Princess Royal.

NHS Lothian has hailed the ERI which was funded using the private finance initiative (PFI), as the "finest modern hospital in Europe".

However, it has come under fire from critics of PFI.

David Forbes of the public service union Unison, said the plans were flawed from the start.

He said: "The absolute bottom line is it's not big enough. The original plans for the hospital were for 100 beds more than what we've actually got.

Medical provision

"The other problem is that it is funded with the private finance initiative which means that a lot of money is going out from the public sector into the private sector and that is causing massive financial problems within NHS Lothian."

Supporters believe the 184m hospital is a huge improvement on previous medical provision in the capital.

Charles Swainson, clinical director of NHS Lothian, said the new facilities have benefited patients and staff.

Charles Swainson
Charles Swainson said there have been improvements
He said: "The theatres and the critical care areas are equipped with some of the latest technology and the doctors and nurses tell me they're getting great benefits in terms of patient safety and their ability to treat patients quickly.

"The other area that has noticed a tremendous improvement is the X-ray department where they have been able to reduce the waiting times for CT scanning and MR scanning very considerably and that's great for patients."

The ERI has had problems since it first began carrying out operations in January 2002.

Staff walked out in protest at temperatures in the building in August this year and last month it was hit by a power failure which left the hospital without electricity for an hour.

The ERI was built by the Consort Healthcare Consortium, consisting of Balfour Beatty Construction, Morrison Development and The Royal Bank of Scotland.

BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"This is the biggest of a new breed of hospital"

Action call over ERI power cut
05 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Hospital power supply fails
04 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Hospital staff angry at heat
12 Aug 03  |  Scotland
PFI hospital opens its doors
28 Jan 02  |  Scotland

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