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Social distancing measures at new Midland Met hospital cost builder £500k

By Richard Guttridge | Sandwell | Coronavirus | Published:

The firm brought in to complete a delayed hospital took a £500,000 hit introducing social distancing measures on the site, it has emerged.

Midland Metropolitan Hospital

Balfour Beatty was forced to reduce the number of workers on site at the Midland Metropolitan, which is set to open in Smethwick four years late in 2022, when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Work continued throughout lockdown as stringent distancing measures were put in place.

But doing so has set the company, which was drafted in to finish the job following the collapse of Carillion, half a million pounds. The NHS trust which will run the new hospital has said the cash will be reimbursed.

The pandemic was the latest in a long line of headaches for bosses behind the new hospital, which is set to become one of the leading healthcare facilities in the country when it finally opens.

A series of delays and disasters have sent costs spiralling and seen the opening date pushed further and further back. The Midland Met will now cost more than £1 billion to build and run.

It is still hoped the hospital will open in summer 2022, though a further delay has not been ruled out.

Around 160 workers are currently on site and it is hoped the number will rise to 900 by Christmas.

A report on the project from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, said: "(Chief finance officer Dinah McLannahan) confirmed that there had been cost ‘knock-on’ effects from Covid-19 because of Balfour Beatty having to work under lockdown restrictions.

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"Ms McLannahan reported that the estates team had informed her that Balfour Beatty had incurred costs of around £500k because of social distancing/provision of welfare facilities etc.

"(She) further reported that national contract procurement guidelines were expected to address how to manage additional costs as a result of Covid-19.

"Ms McLannahan confirmed that costs would be accounted for separately from operational work costs for Covid-19 and would be reimbursed accordingly."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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