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Express & Star comment: Work must get started on super hospital

By Star Comment | Smethwick | Opinions | Published:

Just when it seemed that work was back on track with the region’s massively delayed super hospital, another potential disaster looms large.

The Midland Met Hospital site in Smethwick

The Midland Met Hospital in Smethwick is one of the most high-profile victims of the collapse of Carillion, with workers off the three-quarters completed site for nine months after the Wolverhampton-based firm went bust.

Following a multi-million pound Government rescue package, the plot is now being prepared for work to resume.

There’s just one problem: nobody seems to want to do it.

Bosses at the trust running the hospital say there is a significant risk of no replacement contractor being found to take on the work, which is scheduled to resume early next year.

In some quarters, eyebrows will be raised that no firm seems willing to take on such an important job.

We can only assume the factors that have caused this apparent disinterest.

On one hand construction giants may not want to be associated with a project that has been tainted by the failure of Carillion and its extremely messy aftermath.

There is also the issue of having to continue work already started by another firm.

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It is understandable that the prospect of having to guarantee part-complete work is unlikely to appeal to many businesses.

However, there is a bigger issue at stake here, namely the health and wellbeing of the people of the Black Country. People are relying on this facility to deliver the healthcare they need for decades to come.

This completion of this hospital has already been pushed back far enough, and talk of it not being finished until after 2023 is simply not acceptable.

Other hospitals have been put under extra strain due to the Midlands Met being delayed.

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When Carillion collapsed, there was always likely to be a price to be paid.

Taking over the construction of this job is clearly not proving to be as appealing as the Government and trust bosses may have thought.

There needs to be a concerted effort to make this job as attractive as possible to prospective bidders.

For the sake of the public, the Government must ensure that work starts on the site as soon as possible.

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