• Ramsay Healthcare UK pulls out of high profile building project
  • Firm was due to run a 90 bed private hospital on the new complex
  • Partnership with Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust announced in 2013
  • Ramsey’s decision to withdraw was taken shortly after the EU referendum

A private healthcare firm has pulled out of a high profile partnership with the NHS, which is due to develop a £120m multi-purpose complex, HSJ can reveal.

Ramsay Health Care UK has been involved in the project with Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust since 2013, and had been appointed to run a 90 bed hospital as part of the complex.

The company took the decision to pull out shortly after the EU referendum on 23 June, HSJ understands. However, it has declined to comment on the reasons for withdrawing, including on whether they were related to economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote.

The news of a fresh blow to this flagship NHS infrastructure project comes with the health service facing fundamental questions about how it finances capital projects with capital funding in desperately short supply. The project, known as “the Forum”, has been seen by some as a potential model for new infrastructure elsewhere.

Plans for the ambitious development, which is due to house a private hospital, hotel and conference centre, among other facilities such as a medical education centre, were first announced in 2013, initially scheduled to open in summer 2016.

But since 2013 the project has faced fundamental problems securing sign off from central bodies, while Cambridge University Hospitals itself has faced significant operational and financial pressures and was placed in special measures in September 2015.

The other parties have said the project will continue, but it is now unclear when the development – which was due to be built using a pioneering contractual arrangement with “no public capital” funding spent on the construction – will be completed.

The trust told HSJ it was “disappointed to learn Ramsay had withdrawn from the Forum project, but [was] pleased with the interest from other companies to replace them”.

Infrastructure investment firm John Laing Group, which established the Forum Cambridge LLP joint venture with the trust to oversee the project, is now running a fresh procurement exercise.

John Laing, director of healthcare projects Peter Ward said: “We are disappointed but there has been very strong interest from strong operators who recognise the quality of care, research and education at Addenbrooke’s. We aim to sign contracts before the year ends.”

The trust unveiled the plans in September 2013 and sought to emphasise the financial benefits of the deal. It is due to grant a long-term lease on the land for the development, but retain the freehold. It said it would receive an annual income and a share of the profits from the complex, which it said would be invested in its NHS hospitals, Addenbrooke’s and Rosie hospitals.

The trust said at the time: “The funding for the £120m infrastructure project will be arranged entirely by John Laing with no public capital spent on the project.”

The original plan for The Forum

A pioneering contractual arrangement in which the private sector puts up capital funding for construction

A 90 bed private hospital run by Ramsay

A 198 bed hotel would be run by Crown Plaza Hotel

A 900 delegate conference centre

A post-graduate medical education centre managed by Cambridge FT

The £120m funding to be arranged by John Laing.

Construction of the development will be carried out by Laing O’Rourke.

Development was forecast due to create over 300 construction jobs and more than 500 jobs at the facility on completion

Source: John Laing