NHS managers have welcomed the Government’s commitment to ensuring construction of a major new West Midlands hospital continues despite the collapse of construction giant Carillion.
The firm was building the £350 million Midland Metropolitan Hospital, a 669-bed hospital in Smethwick, the Black Country, which will substantially replace emergency services provided at City Hospital in Birmingham and Sandwell Hospital.
And Ministers have told the House of Commons that the Government wanted the project to go head “without material disruption”.
David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the Government was in talks with health trusts, Carillion managers and contractors, and with auditors PwC, which is overseeing Carillion’s liquidation.
He told the House of Commons that the goal was to ensure “that in coming days construction activities can continue without material disruption on crucial projects that the Government strongly support.”
And this included the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, he said.
“The Government’s wish and intention is that we can get on with construction work in the West Midlands without material disruption,” said Mr Liddington.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust, said: “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.
“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.
“That plan is ‘two thirds built’ with the new hospital, and partners are anxious to re-establish timescale clarity.
“We are working to do just that with The Hospital Company, and now with PwC and government officials.
“We welcome the commitment to project continuation offered yesterday in Parliament, which has reassured staff, working to provide NHS care here, that this overdue project remains a priority.”
The Government has come under pressure from MPs to ensure there is no delay in the construction work.
Warley MP John Spellar (Lab) told the House of Commons: “The new Midland Metropolitan Hospital now towers over the terraced housing in the Smethwick part of my constituency.
“Despite a delay due to a design failure, work is now proceeding apace and it is two thirds completed.”
And James Morris (Con Halesowen and Rowley Regis) urged Mr Liddington: “Will the Minister commit to make sure that he speaks to his counterparts in the Treasury and the Department of Health to ensure that there is continuity in this construction project, which is now two thirds complete and needs to be gripped?”
The state-of-the-art hospital is to have 13 operating theatre suites.
Carillion built Birmingham’s stunning new central library, the Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013.
The firm employed 400 people at its headquarters in Wolverhampton, and their jobs are now under threat.
It was also a partner in contracts to work on the HS2 high speed rail line due to link London and Birmingham, and provides school dinners on behalf of some local authorities. Carillion also provides 50,000 homes for service personnel across the country on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.
The firm has a training centre for construction apprentices in Tyburn road, Erdington.