Ministers have been attacked for delays in approving a £25m package of repairs to a 'flagship' hospital which had been hailed as an example of ground-breaking architecture.

Isle of Wight Liberal Democrat MP Dr Peter Brand is calling for urgent government action to ensure remedial works start before the roof of St Mary's Hospital, Newport, 'disintegrates'. The repairs are scheduled to take four years.

Dr Brand, who also works on the island as a GP, said ministers had known 'for some time' about problems with the hospital's roof, which first appeared shortly after it opened in 1991.

In a parliamentary question last week, he asked when health secretary Frank Dobson 'will make a statement on the remedial works needed at St Mary's'.

Dr Brand is expecting a response from Mr Dobson this week. But the Department of Health said a business case had been prepared by the regional office and would be 'considered very carefully' by junior health minister Baroness Hayman, who is responsible for South and West region.

Dr Brand insists a swift decision is needed to start work on temporary accommodation, because the whole building will be out of use during the repairs.

The hospital was the first 'low-energy' hospital design. But cladding under the roof has rusted because it was not suitable for the maritime environment of the island.

'The people of the Isle of Wight want to know whether they will continue to have an NHS on the island,' Dr Brand said.

Trust chief executive Graham Elderfield backed Dr Brand's calls for a swift decision. 'We are looking forward to having an answer,' he said. 'We want to get on.'

Unison branch secretary David Metcalfe said: 'This is supposed to be a flagship hospital but it is a joke. The roof is rusting away and we have been told that the pillars are the only things holding it up.

'Even if they get the green light tomorrow, it will be next year before they can start work on the main building because first you have to build an alternative facility for patients.'

The£25m bid has been approved by the South and West regional office but requires ministerial backing before it can go ahead.