Funding problems throw timeline of new Whipps Cross hospital into doubt
- Credit: Katie Collins/PA
Whipps Cross Hospital bosses are no longer sure when construction will start on the new hospital because the government has yet to approve funding.
Initial plans forecast that construction on the new hospital site would start by 2023 and end by 2026, but bosses can no longer pin down a start date.
Redevelopment manager Alastair Finney warned a meeting of the Barts Health NHS Trust board that the “window of opportunity” to meet this target may now have been missed.
He said the treasury will not approve funding for any of 40 new planned UK hospitals until “spring this year”.
“I do now need to report that… we are no longer able to work for previously prescribed milestones or indeed to confirm when the construction will begin.
“We do continue to work with colleagues, and do recognise the importance of maintaining momentum overall.”
Chair in common of both Barts and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), Jacqui Smith, said: “Those things depending on us have made good process.
“It’s bizarre because you would have thought the government would want some good news around building hospitals.”
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Mr Finney said demolition is nearly finished at the nurses’ accommodation corner of the Whipps Cross site, where the new hospital is planned, and the outline proposal has been referred to the London Mayor’s office for approval.
Due to start in “late spring,” the next stage of construction is a multi-storey car park, which is needed to make up for a loss of spaces on the site of the existing hospital.
A report prepared for the board says the Whipps Cross redevelopment programme ended 2021 in a “strong position,” ready for the “green light” to submit an outline business case and find a construction partner.
A campaign by Waltham Forest and Redbridge Councils, named #WhippsWontWait has gained 10,000 signatures since its launch in October last year.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to the new hospital at Whipps Cross and are working closely with the trust to develop their plans.
“We will deliver 48 hospitals by 2030, backed by an initial £3.7 billion, as part of the biggest hospital building programme in a generation."
. Article amended on January 27 to correct start and end date forecasts