Government pledges to fund Whipps Cross rebuild

A vision for how a new Whipps Cross Hospital site could look, including a high street and new housing
A vision for how a new Whipps Cross site could look, including a high street and new housing

Prime minister Boris Johnson picks Leytonstone hospital as one of six to get slice of £2.7billion as Barts Health reveals three options for its redevelopment, reports James Cracknell

Three options for the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone are being tabled – after the government pledged to fund its long-awaited rebuild.

The different proposals all feature the construction of taller hospital buildings to allow other parts of the sprawling 18-hectare Whipps Cross site to be used for housing, as well as the creation of a “high street”.

It will mean new accident and emergency (A&E) and maternity departments being built, although there is still no confirmation of how many beds in total the hospital will have. In a new ‘site masterplan‘ document, Barts Health NHS Trust states that these services “could be delivered differently” with a greater emphasis on more integration with “community and primary care services” as well as day surgeries and electronic appointments – all of which would reduce pressure on beds at Whipps Cross.

The announcement comes after prime minister Boris Johnson named the Leytonstone hospital as one of six nationwide set to receive a slice of a new £2.7billion funding pot over the next five years. Despite repeated questions being put to them by the Echo, the Department of Health and Social Care has been unable to confirm how much exactly Whipps Cross will receive. At this stage Barts Health is also unable to confirm how much the redevelopment is expected to cost, although a previous estimate suggested £500million.

Alwen Williams, chief executive of Barts, said: “We’re delighted. This announcement secures the long-term future of the hospital and enables the patient and staff environment to be greatly improved.”

The three redevelopment options now proposed differ in whether or not to build in multiple phases, which part of the Whipps Cross site to position the new hospital buildings, and how tall they should be. While one proposal would only see building heights of up to eight storeys, another suggests up to twelve storeys.

All options, however, propose the new hospital occupies only one-fifth of the current site – with hundreds of homes likely to be built in the space vacated. Some of the hospital’s current buildings pre-date the NHS itself and are deemed to be too inefficient, with a bill for essential maintenance currently standing at £88m.

Barts Health and its partners will now assess the merits of each of the options, taking into account the extent to which they “enable services to be transformed” plus other criteria including the estimated time for construction, access and environmental issues, and cost.

Feedback from staff, patients and local people is also now being sought – with a public meeting planned on Tuesday 15th October. For more information go to bartshealth.nhs.uk/future-whipps.