£1bn hospital ‘highly unlikely’ to be built by deadline

A north-east London hospital the government promised would be built by 2030 is set to miss the deadline, a project boss has admitted.

It is now “highly unlikely” construction will start on the new Whipps Cross Hospital before 2025 and finish before the end of the decade as previously expected, redevelopment director Alastair Finney told the hospital’s NHS trust board on Wednesday (1 May).

Whipps Cross in Leytonstone is one of 40 new hospitals the government said would be built by 2030 as part of its New Hospital Programme (NHP). It could cost up to £1bn, the National Audit Office (NAO) reported in June. 

The project development team does not know when it will find out how much funding the development will receive or when it can agree a construction timeline, Finney told the board.

The trust is waiting for the Treasury to approve the third version of the national NHP business case, which is currently being looked at by the government’s major projects review group.

In the meantime, the design is being reviewed to better conform with national ‘Hospital 2.0’ guidelines, which encourage a standardised modular approach to new hospital construction.

Integrated Health Projects (IHP), a 20-year-old joint venture (JV) between Vinci and Sir Robert McAlpine, was appointed in November as preferred contractor on the development’s first phase, a 500-space multistorey car park. 

The car park must be completed before construction on the hospital building can begin, Finney said. Work is expected to start on site in summer, once the contract with IHP is finalised, and last about a year.

The JV is building other hospitals within the NHP, including the £105m National Rehabilitation Centre in Leicestershire.

Pressure to replace Whipps Cross Hospital’s 100 year-old buildings grew when flooding closed the A&E department in July 2021. Staff had to evacuate patients in pitch dark and cancel operations.

The new hospital, which is targeting operational net zero, will be at the centre of a wider development providing up to 1,500 new homes. 

The project received a boost in May 2023 when then health secretary Steve Barclay told parliament it would be “fully funded” by the government.

In June, the NAO reported that only 32 out of 40 hospitals promised in the NHP – including Whipps Cross – were projected to open before the 2030 deadline.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We remain committed to the delivery of the new hospital for Barts Health NHS Trust at Whipps Cross as part of our New Hospital Programme.

“The New Hospital Programme continues to work closely with the trust on plans for their new hospital aligned to their standardised approach, Hospital 2.0.”

Barts Health NHS Trust declined to comment.

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