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NHS trust boss demands Midland Met Hospital funding pledge ahead of election

By Richard Guttridge | Sandwell | Health | Published: | Last Updated:

Ministers must keep their promise to fund the completion of a partially-built hospital, a health boss has said ahead of the general election.

Building work has long ground to a halt on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital

Work on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick is expected to resume before the end of the year after the Government pledged £350m towards the project.

The Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which will run the hospital, appears to be close to completing a deal with Balfour Beatty to complete the build, the final hurdle to progressing the scheme.

But trust chief executive Toby Lewis has raised concerns about the possibility of ring-fenced funds to rescue the project following the collapse of Carillion being diverted to easing pressure on the wider NHS, something which could be more likely if there is a change of Government.

Proving the necessary funds are available will be key to ensuring Balfour, which has been carrying out remedial works on the hospital this year, fully commits to coming on board, Mr Lewis said.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Toby Lewis at the topping out ceremony for the Midland Metropolitan Hospital back in 2017

In a clear hint that the situation must not change in the event of Labour gaining power, the chief executive insisted on Twitter there had been "cross-party agreement" for the current position.

And in the latest trust board papers, Mr Lewis said: "Work continues with Balfour Beatty to be ready to restart work on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in December 2019.

"We did not achieve our deal deadline of October 31, and commercial close negotiation continues. On October 12 we did receive ministerial approval for the Midland Met FBC [Final Business Case] both for construction and facilities management.

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"The national conditions attached to that approval are acceptable, and there is just a little more work to do on regional conditions ostensibly attached to the position.

"It will be important to be able to demonstrate that national funds ring-fenced for the post-Carillion position are available consistent with governmental announcements and that the local health system has not seen funds diverted elsewhere to meet wider financial pressures."

Meanwhile, it has also been revealed Balfour could face a battle to secure the necessary manpower for the Midland Met due to labour competition with the Commonwealth Games.

Board papers said there could be a "labour risk" around "competing construction work in the local patch" but that Balfour bosses "were comfortable about that risk".

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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