• Papworth’s protracted move to new PFI hospital hit with fresh delay
  • Leading cardiothoracic trust says contractors using “combustible products”
  • Contractors Skanska says “it remain in discussions with the trust on this matter”

Royal Papworth Hospital Foundation Trust’s protracted move to a new £165m site has been further delayed after the trust raised concerns about “combustible cladding” on the new hospital.

The leading cardiothoracic trust said the planned September opening of the new private finance initiative funded site was being pushed back “a number of months” because of “insulation material [used for the] cladding systems of the new hospital which do not meet our original requirements”.

The trust added: “The insulation materials used [on the first and ground floor] are combustible products. Whilst these products have been generally in use within other buildings across the country, our original requirements for this building made it clear that combustible products should not be used.”

The trust’s chief executive said he was “extremely disappointed” about the delay which represents the latest in a series of setbacks for NHS trusts related to concerns around cladding and fire hazards since the Grenfell Tower fire a year ago this month.

The trust’s decision followed an inspection by both the construction firm Skanska and an “independent tester checking the building to ensure it meets the specifications set out in the original contract,” a trust statement said.

HSJ asked the construction firm Skanska UK if it accepted that the material used on the new site was a fire risk. The company did not address this question, but said in a statement: “We remain in discussions with the trust on this matter and we are working towards a resolution in order for the hospital to open as soon as possible. We share the trust’s aim to uphold the highest standards for patients and staff.”

The trust said Skanska was due to hand over the building to the trust in July after which the trust would have two months to “train staff and complete its equipping programme before opening the new building to patients in September”.

“The hospital is currently awaiting confirmation from Skanska with regards to how long this remedial work will take, but early indications suggest it will take a number of months.”

The prestigious trust’s move from its ageing Everard site to a new new 310 bed purpose built hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, some 15 miles away, has been a protracted affair.

The Treasury finally gave the project the green light in May 2014 after a long battle to secure the funding. Construction began in 2015 under a 30 year PFI deal.

A number of NHS projects have been impacted by fire related issues following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

HSJ exclusively revealed last month that several trusts were still considering what action to take about cladding on their buildings identified as a fire risk during safety checks undertaken last summer.