Fears have been raised that a Midland hospital will shut down if the Government fails to approve plans for new £370 million NHS centre.
The Department of Health has dragged its heels over approving the state-of-the-art Midland Metropolitan Hospital, in Smethwick, for more than a year.
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust chiefs plan to eventually close City Hospital, in Winson Green, and Sandwell Hospital, in West Bromwich, but only when the new hi-tech hospital and network of community clinics open to replace them.
Now Coun Deirdre Alden, chair of Birmingham’s health scrutiny committee, said she fears that if the Treasury refuse the plans in the current climate of austerity, trust bosses may move ahead with closing one of the hospitals anyway.
“Don’t kid yourself that even if we don’t get a new hospital, things will stay the same with two hospitals,” Coun Alden (Cons, Edgbaston) told scrutiny committee members.
“I think come what may, it would end up as one Trust with one hospital.
“The Trust has already gone down the route of the Right Here, Right Now health in the community project and created an environment for a smaller hospital.”
John Adler, chief executive of the Trust is hoping to get a final nod from the Government in December.
He has said that a new hospital is needed to replace ageing City Hospital, in Dudley Road, which was built in Victorian times and has limitations on how it can be altered and expanded for modern times.
Jessamy Kinghorn, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust spokeswoman, said: “We believe a new hospital in Smethwick is the best option for delivering acute health services to people in Sandwell and western Birmingham in the future.
“We are hopeful of approval of the plan in due course. We have not developed alternative plans as we do not believe any other options would be as good for patients as the one we have put forward.”
The new hospital will have 666 beds plus 129 community beds.