‘Extremely frustrating’ government uncertainty stalling Whipps Cross rebuild

The local NHS is unable to pick a construction company until the government makes it decision, reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Local council leaders and MPs launching the #WhippsWontWait campaign (WF Council)
Local council leaders and MPs launching the #WhippsWontWait campaign (WF Council)

The “extremely frustrating” delay deciding how much can be spent rebuilding Whipps Cross is stopping the project moving ahead, according to a local NHS leader.

At the most recent board meeting for Barts Health, which runs the hospital, its new chair said the trust is currently unable to choose a construction company for the project.

This is because, the board heard on 3rd November, the Government has not yet reviewed the rebuild’s business case or decided how much funding it will provide.

Even with these delays, however, redevelopment director Alastair Finney said the trust still expected to complete the new Whipps Cross by 2026.

Speaking at the meeting, new trust chair – and former Labour home secretary – Jacqui Smith said: “The national uncertainty is extremely frustrating.

“What I would say… is that there is considerable support from local politicians, both local and national.”

The Prime Minister has committed £3.7billion for 40 hospitals by 2030, but exactly how much funding the north east London hospital will get – and when – is unknown.

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Waltham Forest Council currently expects to debate the planning application for the project as soon as 24th November.

Mr Finney said there is a lack of clarity over “precisely when” the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will review the Whipps business case.

He said: “It is of critical importance of the programme, it sets out the details of where we have got to so far but also the business case for securing the capital for redevelopment.

“There’s an absence of an agreed national commercial strategy and the steps associated with that, this critical as that target ultimately gives a route to securing a construction partner for the redevelopment.”

Last month, the DHSC said the phasing of the 40 hospital schemes is “based on a current assessment of readiness to progress”.

Declining to comment on the status of the Whipps Cross scheme, they said the assessment is “subject to ongoing review” and timescales “may change”.

Local council leaders and MPs have launched a “Whipps Won’t Wait” campaign, calling for the Government to prioritise the hospital over others awaiting funding.

The campaign’s online petition has so far been signed more than 7,300 times and can be signed here.

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