A decision by Birmingham council to back a major reorganisation of the NHS could see further delays to the long-awaited Midland Metropolitan Hospital.

Members of the city’s Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee have backed plans to redraw the boundaries of Sandwell and West Birmingham clinical commissioning group  (CCG) to create a new body covering Solihull and the whole of Birmingham.

The change would rely on Sandwell’s remaining primary care services such as GPs, dentists and pharmacists coming under the umbrella of a massive health group covering Walsall , Wolverhampton and Dudley .

The Midland Metropolitan Hospital under construction in Sandwell - a former Carillion project
The Midland Metropolitan Hospital under construction in Sandwell - a former Carillion project
 

Councillors backed the proposal as their preferred option despite concerns of its impact on the much delayed Midland Metropolitan Hospital.

Earlier this month, the chief executive of Sandwell NHS Health Trust said such a move could further delay the signing of a contract to resume construction of the hospital which is already predicted to be three years late.

In a report to the trust’s  board members, he said: “It remains our strong view that any such hard border proposal is a red rated risk to the coherence of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital business case.

“This is because such a division of responsibility will necessarily drive divergent clinical pathways for the same population using the site.”

He added: “The timing of this debate is problematic, with the Midland Met Final Business Case due back for approval at the May Board, which is the latest possible date on which the extant build programme can be maintained.

“The position is clearly a very disappointing one, given the ostensive commitment of partners to the delayed completion of the site.”

Mr Lewis has since said the signing of a new contract to could now be pushed back to as late as July.

The unfinished Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Sandwell.
The unfinished Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Sandwell.
 

Meeting on Tuesday, Birmingham councillors supported the option of practices in the west side of the city joining the Birmingham and Solihull CCG.

But this plan assumes all the Black Country health groups merge to become one because Sandwell would cover too small an area  to operate on its own.

Their second preferred option is Sandwell should be integrated into a clinical commissioning group serving Birmingham and Solihull.

The committee’s decision will now be forwarded to Birmingham’s cabinet which will decide on its final option as part of the plans' public consultation.

 

It has been criticised by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust which is building the Metropolitan.

A spokesperson said: “It is inconsistent with the views put to us by local ward councillors in West Birmingham, and by community representatives.

"We continue to work with partners to ensure that any opinions, votes or decisions are grounded in facts.

“We will publish in mid-May the time and financial consequences of any disintegration decision locally.  We are working with construction partners to ensure that they understand that the Secretary of State has given an absolute guarantee that this scheme will proceed and that local NHS representatives must not imperil that commitment.

“New hospitals are not about approving plans, they are about building relationships.  Moving the deckchairs 30 months from delivery risks that.  Hard borders are not, perhaps, wise.

"It is imperative that Ladywood, Perry Barr and Sandwell remain united – whether that is with Solihull and Birmingham, or Walsall and Dudley is a matter for GPs and patients, not managers or politicians.”