• University Hospitals of Leicester was denied its capital bid for £367m in recent allocations
  • Chief executive John Adler tells HSJ reconfiguration needs to be funded in phases
  • CQC recently told trust to urgently improve its obstetrics department

A teaching trust is considering slicing its £367m capital bid into a series of smaller projects in an attempt to “position itself well” for the next wave of government allocations.

In an interview with HSJ, University Hospitals of Leicester chief executive John Adler said the trust recognised its bid, which was first submitted in July 2018, might now need to be “funded in phases”. 

The proposed reconfiguration includes: a new maternity hospital which would bring together the maternity and neonatal services at the Royal Infirmary; the first dedicated children’s hospital in the East Midlands; two new intensive care units with 100 beds; and general modernisation in wards and theatres. The trust also wants to increase the size of Glenfield Hospital by 30 per cent by creating a new elective treatment centre, which would become the focus of this site. 

However, the bid was not included in either the funding wave authorised following last autumn’s budget or the list of projects announced by new prime minister Boris Johnson earlier this month.

The largest project by cost announced by Mr Johnson earlier this month was £99.9m for a new women’s and children’s hospital for Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust. The largest project in the funding wave following last autumn’s budget was £88.5m for “diagnostic equipment and transformation of urgent and emergency care” for Humber, Coast and Vale Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. 

Mr Adler said the trust had been told there will be a further capital bidding process and it was looking to “position itself well” for that. The trust has also “attracted and self-funding £108m worth of investment”.

Mr Adler said, if the reconfiguration funding was split into phases, he would want “recognition this is part of a longer-term plan”, and was not a string of smaller projects.

UHLT stated back in 2014 it needed to consolidate services across its three acute hospitals into two sites. The trust has recently carried out an analysis of the risks that might arise because of the delay in capital funding. Mr Adler said the cost of addressing risks to clinical services is still a work in progress but added it was in the region of “several million pounds… [in the] short to medium term”.

He added: “We have to keep [the] current configuration safe.”

Earlier this month, the Care Quality Commission told the trust to make urgent improvements to its obstetrics department. The watchdog’s unannounced inspection was prompted by three serious incidents in the department.

Of the maternity services, Mr Adler said: “If we are to maintain neonatal services at the General Hospital, we need to increase senior medical cover of that service in order to maintain safety. That means our cost base is increasing in a way it wouldn’t do if we were able to consolidate our services.”

 The HSJ Strategic Estates Forum, now in its 3rd year, takes place in London on 12 March 2020. This is a high level strategic forum that brings together estates directors, sustainability and transformation partnership estates leads and trust board leaders responsible for the estates function who are developing strategic plans for their organisations and local health economies. The focus of the forum is on issues such as availability of and access to capital, tackling backlog maintenance, utilisation of the estate and role of technology in infrastructure development. The forum builds on the Naylor Report and highly anticipated 2019 Spending Review. Register your place at this free to attend event on our website: https://strategicestates.hsj.co.uk/register-your-interest-2020