Serious concerns to be raised with government over Midland Metro Hospital delays

Published 8th June 2018

Midland Metropolitan Hospital artist impression

The Sandwell Health and Wellbeing Board is writing to the Government to express its serious concerns about ongoing delays to the Midland Metropolitan Hospital development in Smethwick.

The Board has agreed to write to Stephen Barclay MP, Minister of State at Department of Health and Social Care, to stress the importance of getting building work started again quickly, both for local health services and economic regeneration.

The Board brings together influential people from the council and NHS – including councillors and doctors responsible for planning and arranging health services – and a community representative.

The collapse of Carillion in January this year led to work stopping on site in Smethwick.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust had proposed using an existing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to get a new contractor to complete the hospital by 2020, but agreement could not be reached on funding this plan by the banks, government and Trust.

Toby Lewis, the Trust’s chief executive, told the Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday (Thursday) that the Trust was now working with the Government and other partners to get work started again as soon as possible and the hospital open by 2022. He said completing the hospital relied on securing either a new PFI scheme or bringing the project into public sector ownership.

He said the delays were very frustrating but assured the Board that everyone was still committed to building a “super” new hospital which would serve the local community for decades to come.

However, he said that the longer delay meant that some acute hospital services would have to transfer temporarily from Sandwell Hospital to City Hospital in 2019 in order to sustain services, keep improving care and make sure sufficient staff are in place ahead of the new hospital opening. He said this would cost several million pounds but confirmed it would not affect the A&E department.

Board chair Councillor Ann Shackleton, who is also the council’s cabinet member for social care, said the Board would now be writing to the Government to express its concerns about the delay, its impact on Sandwell people and regeneration and the rising costs resulting from the scheme taking longer than planned.

She said: “It’s really important we keep up the pressure on this – the sooner a new scheme can be agreed, the better it is for everyone. This is a hugely important and exciting scheme and it’s sad to see the site deteriorating while we all wait for work to start again.”