Duly Diligent

Duly Diligent

Delays to Edinburgh’s new build children’s hospital have dominated local interest and concern lately and for good reason too. Safety concerns postponed the opening of the facility at the very last minute after inspections found serious issues within the building’s ventilation. With an abundance of important stories relating to the building available, it remains a mystery as to why half-baked, near fabricated stories are published instead.

Leading the front page of the Scotland section two days in a row, BBC news published a headline story about the already vastly delayed building being scrapped altogether. On the face of it the story is a huge one, a complete disaster of planning and a failure at every level. Just days from completion, it’s hard to think of a more serious and more concerning story than scrapping the building altogether.

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Gathering an instant click, the story goes on to state the issue that initially delayed the opening is a mere side story compared to the ‘real’ problems that plague the building. Such a claim would undermine both the entire construction and the reliability of what we’re being told about the project too. Such a grave claim would typically come with multiple strong sources well qualified on the subject at hand.

Trade union official Tom Waterson is the key source for the BBC’s quote that the entire building may be “ripped down.” Mr Watson is quoted as saying drainage issues are more pressing than the ventilation problems that kept the hospital closed past its expected completion date. Nowhere in the story are Mr Watson’s construction, engineering, or planning credentials listed.

Mr Watson, seemingly the lead source for the headline claim, goes on to justify the reason for his statements.

Mr Waterson said: “I’ve been speaking to senior staff within NHS Lothian over the last two or three weeks and more and more have been coming to speak to me.”

The source of Mr Watson’s concern is a series of conversations he’s had with unnamed staff members over recent weeks. Whether any of these staff members have construction credentials, or indeed any first-hand knowledge of the building is left to the imagination.

We are left to assume that the source behind the major scary headline is, at best, second hand news gained from informal conversations. Interestingly, none of these staff members were available or willing to discuss the issues or be quoted by the BBC.

“They are telling us that they have concerns primarily over drainage at the site. People are unable to confirm whether the drainage that has been put in, is in fact fit for purpose.”

We had only just established the building may need to be ripped down entirely, now we’re simply questioning the status of the drainage from a layman’s perspective. Nobody seems willing to justify the headline claim. All of which follows on to the punchline of the article.

Mr Watson surmises that the engineering challenge ahead are “not going to be easy” while admitting that he is not an engineer or trained in any of the relevant issues.

What is surprising about the article is that nowhere throughout is an engineer reached to comment. Nobody with even passing experience of engineering, construction, or drainage is asked to weigh in and comment on the potential issues raised.

If the issues are as grave as the headline suggests, it is surprising that nobody else has been willing to comment on it so far.

Perhaps it would be useful to even have a subject matter expert to comment on the general case drainage installation on a generic building. If the fundamental issues with the design are as bad as suggested here, an engineer with knowledge of the subject should have no trouble confirming the complete disaster of planning and architecture that has taken place.

The extraordinary claims made at the top of the article should surely deserve at least a second source to back them up.

Nobody quoted within the story could even confirm the issues raised surrounding drainage installed at the site. The story seems to use Mr Waterson’s speculative quote as proven fact.

For a headline claim so blatantly bold, and with such a huge impact, the misuse of their one single source is simply clickbait.

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