Thursday, March 03, 2005

GSLP/LIBS have pathological need to criticise, says Britto

The Gibraltar Government has said it “deeply regrets” that Mari Montegriffo’s “desperation to tarnish the new hospital for political purposes” should lead her to make fanciful and exaggerated statements about relatively minor problems.

In the continuing political ding-dong over the new hospital, Health Minister Ernest Britto said that these are directly attributable either to the exceptional weather conditions or to construction defects while also accusing the GSLP/Libs of being “among the very few people in Gibraltar” who have had absolutely nothing favourable to say about the new hospital.

“They have a pathological need to criticise everything the Government does. It was therefore inevitable that Ms Montegriffo and others would seek to initiate a politically motivated campaign to tarnish and undermine,” said Mr Britto. The Minister continued:

In essence, four problems have been experienced as a result of the recent exceptional inclement weather, as follows. At the catering facility on the North Mole there has been some water ingress which affected only the changing and toilet facilities causing a small section of the internal plasterboard ceiling to collapse. The area affected is approximately 5 square metres out of the total kitchen area of 800 square metres. This incident has not affected the catering function of the Unit which has continued to supply meals to hospital patients without interruption. This water ingress was caused by a dead seagull blocking one of the roof top gullies and making it overflow. The matter is currently being resolved by the Gibraltar Health Authority and the contractor and preventive action is being taken to avoid repetition.

The wind-swept rains have also affected the main entrance door of the new Hospital by interfering with the electronic sensors operating these sliding doors. Also, the tiles on the roadway immediately outside the main entrance have also been adversely affected. There have been a small number of incidents of water ingress in the new Hospital as a consequence of some poor workmanship, faulty seals, joints, etc. These are being assessed and rectified as part of the snagging process and the contractor’s defects liability period.

The only significant incident has concerned the roof of one of the newly built plant rooms which serve to air condition the whole hospital. This caused a small amount of water to filter through into the sluice room area on the floor immediately below which is adjoining one of the operating theatres, but it has had no adverse consequence on the surgical schedules. Immediate action has been taken to correct this fault.

Due to the continuing works which were still ongoing on the podium at ground floor level outside the main building and due to the overflowing of the palm tree planters, some water ingress was also experienced in the basement area but this problem will be resolved once the works on the podium have been concluded.

It is not uncommon for such minor defects to occur following a major construction of this nature but these are corrected under the contractor’s defects liability period and any extra works which are necessary as a consequence, are at the contractor’s expense and therefore do not entail any financial burden on the Government or the GHA.

The Opposition, anxious to discredit the Government in relation to the new hospital, claims that these occurrences prove a “lack of forward planning” and failure to have “the building checked by carrying out a structural survey”. This is absurd. As Ms Montegriffo well knows the hospital works have been designed and carried out under the supervision of leading architects, engineers and surveyors. A full study was conducted by a team of UK specialists on the Europort buildings prior to the decision to locate the hospital there.

The Government also rejects Opposition criticism that at the new hospital lacks parking for the public. They also attribute this to a lack of forward planning. Already there is more parking near the hospital than at the old site. However, as has already been announced, approximately 100 parking spaces will become available exclusively for the hospital, towards the end of this year once the adjoining Europlaza Building is completed. Is the Opposition seriously suggesting that the opening of the Hospital should have been delayed by almost one year in order to wait for the parking to become available?

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