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Those working within the NHS’ Black Country services will be familiar with the headline “Midland Met delayed”. This is because it has been more than 10 years since Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust first embarked on its journey to build a brand new hospital site.

The trust’s new hospital build has been racked with delay after delay. Readers will remember a major one being the collapse of its construction partner Carillion in 2018.

Amazingly, the trust managed to get over that hump and has since been touted by the government as the first of its 40 new hospitals. The provider had planned to open the hospital in time for the Commonwealth games in 2022.

Sadly, it seems the trust now faces the dreaded Brexit-induced delays. In a statement, the new chief for SWBH said the opening date would be pushed back by a year amid issues with supplies and workforce availability.

These issues align with wider problems within the construction industry. As Noble Francis, economics director of the Commercial Products Association, explained, there have been extended lead times of products since autumn last year and skills shortages exacerbated by the fall in EU labour in recent years.

Covid continues its uneven course

The latest hospital admissions data for covid shows a figure of 4,360 in the seven days to 9 October, a 9 per cent rise on the previous week, although it is important to note regional variations.

Over the same time frame, the seven day total in the East has risen from 291 to 366, and in the South West from 441 to 555.

The East region – along with the South East – has seen relatively little impact from the summer covid wave, and is therefore rising from a low base.

The South West region on the other hand has experienced a much tougher time, especially given its relatively small and widely distributed population. The region now outstrips the far larger London region.

The Midlands and the North East Yorkshire regions continue to see the highest number of covid admissions, and both experienced an 11 per cent increase in their seven day total over the last week. Read our full analysis, with charts, here.