Whipps Cross development 'stalled by national uncertainty over funding', says trust chair

MPs and council leaders from Redbridge and Waltham Forest gather to launch the Whipps Won't Wait campaign

MPs and council leaders from Redbridge and Waltham Forest gather to launch the Whipps Won't Wait campaign last month - Credit: Waltham Forest Council

Delays in deciding how much can be spent to rebuild Whipps Cross are stalling the project, according to a local NHS leader. 

The board for Barts Health, which runs the hospital, heard last week the government had not yet reviewed the rebuild’s business case or decided how much funding it would provide. 

As a result, the trust is currently unable to choose a construction company, its new trust chair Jacqui Smith said. 

This is despite the fact that Waltham Forest Council expects to debate the planning application for the project as soon as November 24. 

Redevelopment director Alastair Finney said the trust is still expected to complete the new Whipps Cross by 2026. 

Speaking at the board meeting on November 3, former Labour home secretary Ms Smith said: “The national uncertainty is extremely frustrating. 

“What I would say… is that there is considerable support from local politicians, both local and national.” 

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The prime minister has committed £3.7billion for 40 hospitals by 2030, but exactly how much funding the north east London hospital will get – and when – is unknown. 

What Whipps Cross Hospital could look like. Picture: Barts Health NHS Trust

What Whipps Cross Hospital could look like. Picture: Barts Health NHS Trust - Credit: Archant

Mr Finney said there is a lack of clarity over “precisely when” the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will review the Whipps business case. 

He said: “There’s an absence of an agreed national commercial strategy and the steps associated with that, this is critical as that target ultimately gives a route to securing a construction partner for the redevelopment.” 

Last month, local council leaders and MPs launched “Whipps Won’t Wait”, a campaign calling for the government to prioritise the hospital over others awaiting funding. 

This followed flash floods which caused 100 patients to be evacuated and a loss of power for 17 days. 

Collapsed ceiling at Whipps Cross Hospital, Waltham Forest

Collapsed ceiling at Whipps Cross Hospital, Waltham Forest. - Credit: Alastair Lockhart LDR

An online petition for Whipps Cross to be the first hospital to receive funding has now gained 7,300 signatures. 

Last month, the DHSC said the phasing of the 40 hospital schemes is “based on a current assessment of readiness to progress”. 

Declining to comment on the status of the Whipps Cross scheme, a spokesperson said the assessment is “subject to ongoing review” and timescales “may change”. 

The DHSC has been approached for further comment.