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Midland Met Hospital's four-year delay is a major scandal - MP

By David Cosgrove | Smethwick | Health | Published:

‘The appalling behaviour of Carillion and dithering from ministers has badly damaged this project.’

John Spellar described government dithering as 'paralysis by process'

These are the words of MP John Spellar, who has urged the Government ‘to see sense’ as it emerged the delayed Midland Met Hospital is set for a 2022 opening.

A new report by Sandwell NHS Trust chief executive Toby Lewis says a 2020 opening date now looks ‘impossible’ in the wake of Carillion’s collapse.

Mr Lewis has admitted a 2022 opening of the hospital – which would be four years later than originally planned – is now the most likely option.

That is ‘shocking news’ for both patients and staff, according to Warley MP Mr Spellar, who said the delayed construction is ‘emerging as a major scandal’.

Work ground to a halt at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital site in Smethwick after the collapse of Carillion

He told the Express & Star: “This is shocking news for patients and also for the dedicated staff at the Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust.

“Once again, dithering by the Government which I have already warned about is blocking this much needed hospital.

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“It is very much paralysis by process.”

He continued: “I am continuing to pursue the cabinet office and health department ministers to try to get them to see sense.

“This is rapidly emerging as a major scandal.

“[The Trust] needs to reshape their services – this is a state of the art hospital that would be right at the leading edge of health treatment.

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“But the appalling behaviour of Carillion and dithering from ministers has badly damaged this project.

“It is causing problems for the people of Sandwell and West Birmingham and the staff at both City Hospital and Sandwell General.

“There are no good options here because of what’s happened – it will cost money to get work back underway but people need to grasp that and get on with it.”

In a report to Sandwell Council’s health and wellbeing board, Mr Lewis says a failure to transfer ex-Carillion workers onto another provider ‘makes it impossible to see that a delay can be mitigated to 2020...[with] an opening date for the new build of 2022 the most likely scenario.”

Last week campaigners marched through Smethwick to the hospital site, calling for work to be restarted as soon as possible.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance’s grassroots campaign manager Harry Fone said: “We’ve spoken to residents and shop owners about what’s going on at the hospital.

“The longer the delays go on the higher the costs will get.

“They need to get on with it and we are calling for the Government to act.”

He continued: “We need people to get a move on – the longer it’s going to go on for, the more pressure it’s going to put on the other hospitals and the taxpayer.”

“We are calling for it to be completed in the quickest, most efficient way possible.

“It was due to be completed in autumn, now it has been pushed back to 2020 and could even be after that.”

Work will remain at a standstill until a contractor is confirmed by The Hospital Company, a move which will add £125m to the £350m hospital bill.

Swedish construction firm Skanska had been identified as the preferred new builder. Mr Lewis previously said the abandonment of the Midland Met has resulted in the site ‘deteriorating’,

David Cosgrove

By David Cosgrove
Chief Reporter - @davidcosgrove_

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