December date for decision on major building schemes

07 October 2022 Seamus Ward

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CraneDiscussing the new hospital programme (NHP), the NHS England board said seven hospitals were severely impacted by RAAC and would need new builds to mitigate their risk of closure over the next 10 years. Two of these hospitals are in the NHP already, and should be replaced by 2030, leaving five without a solution.

Chief financial officer Julian Kelly told the board meeting on 6 October: ‘We are working towards the next big decision point where we can really nail down total programme and total scope. The funding currently covers about 18 [schemes]; we now need to nail down the total programme budget for the whole lot. That is currently scheduled for December and as part of that we need to consider how we are handling the RAAC hospitals where we know there are five not currently in the programme.

‘There are a larger number of hospitals that have this [RAAC], but it tends to be only in a bit of the estate. We have a well-established programme on how to eradicate RAAC planks with the funding we have, other than in the five major hospitals not currently in the new hospital programme.’

A decision on the next eight NHP projects has been scheduled for early December.

NHP chief programme officer Morag Stuart gave an update on the programme’s progress.

‘We have 40 hospitals in our programme and of those 18 are funded under the current spending review envelope,’ she said.

The 40 projects have been divided into four cohorts, with the programme taking a balanced approach to delivering hospitals without undue delay while also achieving the benefits of standardisation and transformation.

The first cohort is a group of eight schemes that are well under way. One is open – the Northern Centre for Cancer Care – and one, the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, is going through a phased opening. The second cohort has 10 small schemes, and the focus is on delivering on time and to budget with some standardisation.

Ms Stuart said seven of the cohort one projects are fully funded, while the scheme at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is currently going through the final full business case approval process. ‘We have the budgetary provision for cohort two – that’s the next 10 schemes – but they have to go through the individual business case process to get funding allocated to them,’ she said.

The NHP has sent a paper on the impact of the currently inflationary pressures on the first 18 schemes to the Treasury, which has asked for a further paper on the impact on projects in cohorts three and four.

Cohorts three and four are large hospitals, and Ms Stuart said these schemes were transitioning from a traditional way of designing and building a hospital to more centralised build and design. In these schemes timescales have been adjusted to realise the full transformational potential, such as digital advances, sustainable buildings and modern construction methods.