Deal hold-up could delay Midland Met Hospital work
The start date for the resumption of work on a partially-built hospital could slide into 2020 if a deal is not signed with the proposed contractor by the end of November.
Closing out a deal with Balfour Beatty is the final hurdle to getting work going again on the £475m Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick after the project was given the green light by the Government last month.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which will run the new hospital, said the hold-up was frustrating and admitted further delays would put pressure on bosses to meet the commitment of having the Midland Met open by spring 2022.
It is hoped fresh building work will begin in December but meeting that target is dependent on agreeing the deal with Balfour.
Balfour has been carrying out remedial works at the site this year and has been lined up to complete the project for months but the trust is still waiting for formal sign off. The Midland Met was originally due to open in 2019 before the collapse of Carillion.
Mr Lewis said: "We've given various different dates for getting everything agreed and a number of them have come and gone. It's frustrating but it's also life as we see in the country as a whole.
"Governmental approval we needed came through on October 12 and we're closing out a commercial negotiation with Balfour Beatty. The right way to think about it is Balfour have got to get all of their suppliers lined up and to some degree they're not in a place to sign until all their suppliers are sorted out.
"I keep saying I'm optimistic, I'm optimistic that we'll get a deal in November. If we do get a deal in November we''ll see construction start this side of Christmas and the plan is to deliver by spring 2022. We're looking forward to getting on with it."
Mr Lewis accepted that if talks with Balfour drag into December work would not start until the new year. He maintained it was his aim for the hospital to be open by the Commonwealth Games but said it was "not essential".
He said: "If we don't get the agreement in the next few weeks then we will be pushed back by a few weeks after Christmas."
A recent report suggest competition for construction work from the Commonwealth Games could create problems for the Midland Met work and Mr Lewis admitted it was a challenge the project would face.
He said: "Birmingham, I think I'm right in saying, has got the most construction projects anywhere in the United Kingdom so on one level that means lots of people who are looking for building work and move to the city, on another level it does mean there is competition.
"It's one of the issues Balfour and their supply chain are going to face."