Work on a £14.5 million centre at Birmingham Children's Hospital to treat badly burned youngsters has been delayed by six months because the building contractor has pulled out of the project.
The specialist burns unit is now expected to open by the end of next year.
Pearce Group was employed to build the four-storey centre on Loveday Street, but it has now withdrawn from all its NHS projects to concentrate on other work.
Both sides said the split was amicable and two well-known West Midlands' contractors were now vying for the job.
Andrew Hughes, the burns centre's project director, said: "By April we will have decided which contractor we are using and by June building work will start again. The net effect will be a six-month programme extension.
"The Pearce Group made their name in retail work and I think they are moving away from healthcare contracts.
"The company's departure was totally amicable. We respect their commercial decision and in fact this will probably not be such a bad thing because it has given us longer to plan the centre.
"By the end of next year Birmingham will have a burns centre which is one of the top in the country, possibly one of only three in Britain."
Andrew Dale- Harris, Pearce Group's business development director, said his company had decided to take itself off a list of NHS contractors so it could pursue work in other sectors.
He said: "Once the hospital found out that we wanted to focus on non-NHS projects, they told us that we didn't have to continue at the burns centre. We had barely started anyway and had just done some of the groundwork."
Youngsters aged up to 16 and from as far as the South Coast and the North will be cared for at the unit, which will have an operating theatre, a four-bed ward and two "shock rooms" for children with the worst injuries.
It will be built next to the hospital's intensive care unit and care for up to 400 patients a year.
Some of the latest methods of replacing lost skin on badly burned patients have been pioneered by surgeons in Birmingham and the new unit is expected to generate further scientific breakthroughs.
Children aged between two and 15 who were treated at the hospital were canvassed for their views on what the new centre should look like.
Mr Hughes said: " The building will be a startling sight for drivers coming down the A38. It will be highly colourful with Pompidou-style tubes, green piping and a triangular- shaped yellow wedge on the side.
"We have modelled it on building blocks and children's toys." n The hospital will decide next month whether there will be a helipad on the roof of the burns centre.
The helipad would save up to 30 lives every year and without it, critically ill or injured children would have to be airlifted to Heartlands Hospital in Bordesley Green and then driven to the centre.
Medics fear vital minutes will be lost if patients cannot be brought directly to the unit.