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New hospital delayed

It is nearly three months since the downfall of Carillion but the reverberations are still being felt in the NHS.

The biggest impact was felt by Sandwell and West Birmingham and Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals trusts, where Carillion was building new privately financed hospitals each costing more than £300m.

Neither have agreed terms with a new contractor to pick up Carillion’s work and finish the job.

HSJ understands both trusts have identified their preferred builder, but key details are yet to be ironed out with the moneymen (PwC) and the government over the longer term plans for completing and maintaining the hospitals.

These are highly complex talks, not helped by the number of different parties involved, but Sandwell and West Birmingham chief executive Toby Lewis says he is growing increasingly concerned about the lack of progress.

In a candid interview with HSJ, Mr Lewis said the clinical risks of further delays to the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital need to be “paramount” when considering the way forward.

While he stressed no party to the discussions was being unhelpful, he was frustrated that a solution had not been agreed.

It is a change of tone compared to the immediate aftermath of Carillion’s liquidation when Mr Lewis was “cautiously optimistic” that a new builder could be found quickly.

Midland Metropolitan is already behind schedule, having initially been scheduled to open in October 2018, but HSJ understands it is likely it may take a further year before the hospital can open.

Mr Lewis said he remains optimistic “decency and quality will prevail in the end”.

But if a deal cannot be struck then contract termination may be the only remaining option.