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Midland Met: Super hospital may not open until 2020 after Carillion's collapse

By Richard Guttridge | Smethwick | Business | Published:

A £350 million hospital which was due to open later this year could now launch 'beyond 2020' following the collapse of Carillion, health chiefs have admitted.

Midland Met Hospital

Work has ground to a halt on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick, which is due to become Sandwell's main health unit, since the Wolverhampton-based building giant went bust, leaving its future up in the air.

Bosses at Sandwell's NHS Trust have been holding crisis talks to try and get work back under way on the facility.

It remains their aim to have the hospital open during 2019/20 but officials have conceded it could be after 2020 before the hospital finally welcomes patients.

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The Midland Met, which is around two-thirds built, was originally due to open in autumn 2018. It had already hit a series of delays before the collapse of Carillion plunged the project into crisis.

Answers on construction timescales are particularly pressing as there are concerns continuing to run Sandwell General and City Hospital with current staffing levels is 'unsustainable' in the long term.

Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, said: "The trust continues to discuss with government and private funders the best way forward to complete our two-thirds built hospital, which was due to open in 2018.

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“The original Midland Met business case approved in 2014, and the strategic case consulted upon with local residents in 2007, made it clear that stretching acute and emergency services across two sites was unsustainable, and that would get worse with time.

"More than a decade later, the costs of temporary staffing are wasteful and teams are rarely fully staffed. The start of construction in 2016 has helped us considerably to recruit both nurses and doctors. However, the risk of a delay in opening into 2020 - or even under some options beyond that - will undermine that work and recreate the risks that the new hospital is the solution to.

"Quality of care must be the paramount consideration in our plans. Time and delay is the single key consideration in addressing the issues identified by the Trust, partners, and by the CQC in 2014 and 2017. The new hospital is not a nice to have upgrade, it is an essential step to safety and one we need in 2019/20.

“We continue to receive strong support from across Whitehall to make sure that we can open the hospital in the fastest possible time, given the pressing needs of our patients and staff. We recognise that there remains public, patient and taxpayer interest in the pace of resolution, and we are looking to reach conclusions over the coming few weeks. It is too early to confirm whether that can be achieved via the present partnership structure, but that remains our hope.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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