Leytonstone News

No sign of Whipps Cross funding promised in August

Work rebuilding the hospital will likely remain at its current standstill until next year

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

The Secretary of State for Health promised the next chunk of funding last August (credit: Steve Barclay)

The government has yet to release funding for the new Whipps Cross Hospital promised by the health secretary last summer.

During a visit to Whipps Cross in August, health secretary Steve Barclay announced he had approved “up to £28 million” for the first stage of the project.

The money will mostly pay for a new 500-space six-storey car park, needed to replace current parking spaces and thus free up land for the new hospital building.  

However, last week it emerged that the team overseeing the government’s hospital building programme has still not approved the promised funds.

Last week (12th January), Whipps Cross redevelopment director Alastair Finney said his team is “going in a bit of a circle” with the government and “see no way” construction can begin this year.

He told a meeting of the Whipps Cross joint health overview and scrutiny committee: “Steve Barclay wrote to Iain Duncan Smith saying that he had approved the funding.

“Then we were told by the national hospital team that they needed to review the business case before they were able to confirm funding.

“We now see no way construction of the car park can begin before 2024. The assumption is that the overall construction of the car park needs to be completed before the hospital can begin – so it’s not a positive picture.”

Finney added that he had expected “formal approval” of the car park to be agreed by the government’s major projects review group (MPRG) on 6th of December.

But he now understands that the new Whipps Cross building – which gained planning permission in November 2021 – was not discussed by the group and, “contrary” to what he had been led to believe, “no national progress” has been announced.

Demolition of old Whipps Cross hospital buildings ended last June and, without additional funding, no further work to prepare the site can take place.


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Committee deputy chair Beverley Brewer said it was “devastating” to hear that construction is unlikely to start before 2024. She added: “It goes without saying that residents would be disappointed and it’s unacceptable that there’s been no feedback to the trust.”

When contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the department is working through the MPRG’s recommendations on value for money.

However, the spokesperson said the government remains “committed to delivering a new hospital” in Whipps Cross by 2030 and will set out the next steps “in due course”.

They added: “Final funding allocations are only confirmed once the full business case has been reviewed and agreed, including by HM Treasury.”

Finney said the “elephant in the room” for the government is the shortage of funding for Boris Johnson’s flagship 2019 election pledge to build 40 new hospitals

He added: “The original £3.7billion allocated to the national hospital programme, we all recognise, was never going to be sufficient.”

Due to increased construction costs, the price tag for a new Whipps Cross Hospital building is likely to have grown from the most recent estimate of £500million, given in 2019.

The DHSC is hoping the promised hospitals will be “built more rapidly” and at a lower cost by using a standardised design for several hospitals.

Last week (11th January), Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy tabled a parliamentary question to Barclay asking why no decision has been made on Whipps Cross. The DHSC has not yet responded.

MP for Chingford & Woodford Green Iain Duncan Smith told the LDRS he has had personal assurances from Steve Barclay that “there should not be any doubt about the funding and end-result for a new Whipps Cross Hospital”.

He added: “I am in regular contact with the Secretary of State and his Department, following the progress and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure the funds are released.”

Ilford South Labour MP Sam Tarry said: “The NHS is facing a humanitarian crisis, with millions of people on waiting lists, while accident and emergency departments are stretched to breaking point.

“It’s therefore imperative that Whipps Cross Hospital is fast-tracked. Any failure on this would be a betrayal of patients and their families.”


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