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17.01.18

Carillion liquidation casts doubt on £350m under-construction Birmingham hospital

Construction plans for the new £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital have taken a hit following the announcement that the main contractor in charge of construction has gone into liquidation.

Carillion, one of the UK’s largest construction and service companies, announced earlier this week that it would be entering insolvency, creating major problems across its many public sector contracts.

Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust – which is building the hospital – said the facility was “two-thirds built” and that the provider was working to “resolve any uncertainty” around the issue in the next few days.

“It has been abundantly clear over the last 24 hours how much the completion of the Midland Met means to the plans and ambitions of partner organisations locally,” Lewis said.

“We have worked together for over a decade to develop the plans to invest more money into primary and community care, and redesign acute care.”

Following the news of Carillion’s liquidation, NHS Improvement (NHSI) put out a statement detailing its planned response.

Extra staff were sent out to provide support to 14 trusts where the now-defunct company had previously provided services, although NHSI found that many employees had come to work and operations on all sites had been able to continue as planned.

Despite this, construction at Midland Metropolitan has been a concern because the trust will now have to find a different company to finalise the project.

When completed, the hospital will be a purpose-built facility, which will provide acute and emergency care for adults and children.

It is expected to serve around 500,000 people and will centralise services, providing some facilities previously located at the trust’s other two hospitals, Sandwell General and City Hospital.

The general hospital is set to become a treatment centre offering local outpatient, diagnostic and short-stay surgical care, while the A&E department on the site will be replaced with an urgent care centre.

Plans for the hospital were drawn up as part of the local sustainability and transformation plan and the facility is expected to create efficiencies by integrating certain services.

Carillion’s liquidation has also prompted questions about the relationship between the NHS and private sector companies, specifically on the subject of providing services.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said the news “raises questions” about trusts’ PFI deals. He went on to urge the government to look into the problems and provide some clarity.

Top image: Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

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