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What now for Carillion’s NHS projects?

How the collapse of Carillion continues to affect the wider community as well as those directly affected by redundancy or non-payment…

With a pipeline of capital projects valued in the billions up until 2020, the Healthcare sector remains a lucrative area of work within the construction market.
But with the recent collapse of Carillion – where does that leave 2 of the biggest NHS flagship projects currently being built in the UK.

Royal Liverpool University Hospital

Already over budget and around a year delayed the £335m Royal Liverpool Hospital is now unlikely to be completed before 2019. First scheduled to open in March 2017 the project has already experienced multiple delays due to the presence of asbestos and the necessity for remedial building work; the collapse of Carillion in January has merely rubbed salt in the wound. Frustratingly, Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman has stated that the work is already “around 90% complete” but due to complexities around negotiations with former Carillion employees and existing sub-contractors, the remaining 10% could take some time to complete. This is in no small part down to the fact that many of the businesses involved obviously understand the work that is required to finish the project but are now facing financial difficulties as a result of the Carillion collapse. This has left huge question marks hanging over the project and the subsequent announcement predicting significant delays.

Royal Liverpool Hospital Chief Executive Aidan Kehoe has been working and liaising with the Department of Health and has been quoted as saying that the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen and University Hospitals NHS Trust “was doing all it can” to minimise the completion delay.

The appointment of a new contractor must be the first priority but even then it may be some time before we know the true extent of the setback and just when the Royal will displace the existing hospital.

Midland Metropolitan Hospital, Birmingham

Meanwhile 100 miles south of Liverpool, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Toby Lewis has warned that it could be “weeks or even longer” before work starts again on the £350 million Midland Metropolitan hospital project.

Currently around two thirds in to the project and the same problems faced by the Royal Liverpool University Hospital are also being echoed in the Midlands, with the key focus being on retaining the senior leadership team involved in the project and ensuring a new builder and contractor are in place to drive the schedule forward.
Critically, these healthcare schemes are so much more than just fantastic buildings with amazing aesthetics - these new projects are absolutely vital in improving the current services provided by other facilities in their respective areas.

In the case of Midland Metropolitan Hospital we are quite literally talking about bringing the overstretched services of the emergency departments from West Bromwich and Birmingham together to offer a far superior service in a 21st century “fit for purpose” building.

In Liverpool the New Royal is directly replacing the existing hospital and is set to drastically improve services for patients in the city. The Royal is also forming a part of the emerging Knowledge quarter within the city to include a niche Cancer unit within the Royal campus on completion. Any project delays obviously curtail this progression from happening and results in the current facilities becoming further stretched and increasingly ‘out of date’ which again potentially impacts the wider community and those living within it.

Health Chiefs, Ministers and other senior individuals from the upper echelons of associated partnerships are all suggesting that whilst there will now be significant delays on these schemes, the commitment is there to get these hospitals over the line.

It remains to be seen just how long these delays will be.