The Critical Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast has been empty for five years
The Critical Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, was supposed to open in 2012, complete with a helipad on the roof.
But it remains closed, apart from A&E on the ground floor, with little hope of progress until at least the autumn.
Problems with the pipe work and subsequent legal wrangles have left the remaining floors unused.
And the brand new helipad on the roof is not in use, which is putting lives at risk.
Last year during the North West 200 motorbike race a seriously injured rider, who was airlifted from the track, had to land at Musgrave Park Hospital and continue to the RVH by ambulance. Last night the Belfast Trust said the hospital wouldn't be fully functional until this autumn at the very earliest.
Despite the Belfast Trust opening the ground floor as the new Emergency Department, and more recently the Endoscopy Suite, the rest of the glass-fronted tower block has remained empty.
Plans to open a number of other departments this month have also been postponed, leaving health chiefs red-faced once again.
If you thought the RHI scandal was bad the public need to be told about this one
Health chiefs have been desperately trying to get more floors fully operational but had to shelve plans to open a number of departments earlier this month. Issues with the pipe work and electrics have caused major problems which have reportedly cost tens of millions of pounds to repair.
The state-of-the-art building had been billed as a beacon for the local construction industry.
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The hospital wing was supposed to open in 2012, but remains closed with little hope of progress
In April 2015 construction firm McLaughlin & Harvey announced it had handed the building over to the NHS Trust that runs the RVH.
It described the unit as "a new 12-storey building – two levels below ground for services, and 10 levels above ground for accident & emergency, theatres, critical care units, and maternity facilities".
And it added: "The new state-of-the-art building will provide regional emergency and trauma services and first-class regional maternity services to the people of Northern Ireland. The structure includes a helipad provision for future use."
But issues persisted with the plumbing. Sewer pipes without rodding eyes had been laid, which would have led to the sewers being blocked.
Last night the Belfast Trust confirmed they were involved with ongoing legal proceedings with McLaughlin & Harvey.
A spokesperson for the building firm said they had "no comment" to make.
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Last April McLaughlin & Harvey settled a legal battle with their insurance company over the pipes.
Hospital sources say the failure to fully open the hospital is a "scandal" and a "huge embarrassment" for the Belfast Trust.
"If you thought the RHI scandal was bad the public need to be told about this one," said a source.
"What has happened here is a complete scandal which is costing the public millions of pounds for a service which they can't even use yet.
"You have to see inside this place – it's incredible. It has all the latest technology and no expense has been spared.
"It should be a bustling hospital, serving the whole community so to see it lying empty and unused is a total disgrace."
The Belfast Trust said: "The Trust is currently engaged in a programme to clinically commission the Critical Care building including the recruitment and training of nursing and medical staff, the orientation and induction of over 600 staff and equipping the building for use.
"This programme runs in tandem with the works being completed within the building. This is to prepare the theatres and the Intensive Care Unit to transfer in autumn/winter 2017.
"There is a dispute in relation to the main contract, which is the subject of ongoing proceedings between McLaughlin & Harvey and the Trust." In April last year McLaughlin & Harvey settled their legal action with insurers Allianz regarding the problems with the pipes.
Central to the legal battle was a dispute about the terms of a Contractors' All Risks (CAR) policy.
McLaughlin & Harvey and subcontractor Vaughan Engineering Services both claimed they should be covered. Counsel for McLaughlin & Harvey said the firm had spent more than £9.8m of its own money rectifying problems.
Both sides came to a confidential agreement outside the courtroom.