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Fears Midland Metropolitan Hospital project could hit even more delays

By Dayna Farrington | Smethwick | Health | Published:

The much delayed Midland Metropolitan Hospital forecast to open three years late could be pushed back even further, according to a report before health bosses.

The hospital in Smethwick is around two-thirds complete but has been left untouched since January

The hospital was supposed to open in January 2019 but the collapse of the construction company Carillion earlier this year set it back to 2022 and increased the initial cost of £350 million by £125 million.

The Metropolitan was commissioned to replace and improve acute services presently delivered at Sandwell General and City Road hospitals.

Now health bosses are being told the project may not even be even completed by 2022 – leading to ‘unsustainable services.’

An assessment being presented to Sandwell and West Birmingham Health Trust has given the threat a high rating, stating : “There is a risk that the procurement process for the replacement financier and contractor does not result in a compliant bid in 2019 because of insufficient market availability resulting in Midland Met delivery delay beyond 2022 and creating further unsustainable services.”

Since Carillion went bust the trust has been negotiating with construction companies to take over the project which stands half completed at its Cranford Street, Smethwick, site.

Since January all work has ceased on the incomplete building leading to concerns that it will suffer weather damage.

The cost of the hospital was supposed to be funded by loans taken out by Carillion which would then lease it back to the NHS under a private finance initiative.

The delays are now leading to calls for the Government to directly pay for construction with taxpayers’ money.

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The risk assessment will be discussed on Wednesday only hours before demonstrators hold a protest at the Smethwick site calling on the Government to pay for its completion.

Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We continue to work closely with government and others to secure the right arrangement to complete the much needed Midland Metropolitan Hospital.

"It was due to be completed in 2018 and we are working to deliver it without fail by 2022. Any option which creates a risk of delay beyond that must be undesirable.”

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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