Once again, Birmingham found itself fighting for a major project which could help transform the city.

This time, we won. The new Queen Elizabeth Hospital (pictured above) is set to be the equal of any medical facility, anywhere in the world.

It will provide a major boost to healthcare in the city and cement the West Midlands' position as a leading centre for medical research.

The implications for the city's economy are just as exciting. Along with a Sainsbury's development in Selly Oak, it will be Birmingham's largest act of urban regeneration, costing nearly #1 billion.

Previous attempts to win major projects for the city, such as the National Stadium or Millennium Dome, have ended in disappointment.

For a time, it looked as if the hospital saga would end the same way.

This was a project Birmingham had been promised for eight years, and it came as a shock in the New Year when it emerged the Government was refusing to give the green light.

With the National Health Service running up a substantial deficit, some in Whitehall were questioning whether it was wise to allow the Department of Health to commit itself to new, major projects.

Senior executives in the health trust responsible for the Queen Elizabeth were openly concerned the rebuild might be cancelled, or drastically reduced in scale.

City MPs and councillors set about convincing Ministers the new hospital was urgently needed.

The Birmingham Post also raised the issue with Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, in a series of interviews.

Hospital staff, patients and anyone who calls Birmingham their home can now celebrate the Government's decision to give the project the go-ahead.

However, there is a grim irony in the fact the formal announcement was made on the same day Tony Blair met hospital managers who had been forced to sack hundreds of staff.

Today, the health trust responsible for Sandwell Hospital and City Hospital in Birmingham is expected to announce substantial cuts, in order to reduce its deficit. The most dramatic cutbacks in the country have occurred in Stoke, Staffordshire, also in the West Midlands.

It might be tempting to ponder whether a major new building scheme should go ahead while other hospitals are facing financial difficulties, but the two issues are not directly connected.

The Queen Elizabeth project is about safeguarding health services for decades to come.

The cutbacks are short term measures to solve financial problems here and now, however much the Government tries to suggest they are part of some long term plan for the NHS.

But the job losses do raise two issues relevant to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

First, they highlight the importance of good management, from Ministers, local health officials and, in the case of the Queen Elizabeth, private sector partners.

The PFI system used to pay for the building work is an effective way of sharing the burden between the taxpayer and private investors.

A consortium, led in this case by construction and engineering firm Balfour Beatty, will pay the initial costs and receive its money back over time.

But the PFI has come in for criticism, including in Worcestershire where a smaller but important hospital was built using the same system.

It is essential that Queen Elizabeth is built to the highest possible standards, on time and within budget.

Birmingham must get this right, and we will.

Secondly, it raises the question of what sort of NHS will exist in ten years time, when the new hospital is completed.

Government is finding it challenging to keep up with the cost of ever-increasing demands for healthcare.

Reforms to the way we use hospitals, such as the current drive towards more day surgery and treatment in the community, may provide the answer. More radical ideas may need to be considered.

What is certain is that the NHS, once the new Queen Elizabeth super-hospital is fully up and running, will be very different to today.