Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospital Refurbs Delayed

No longer a commitment to complete improvements by 2030

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May 28, 2023

The government has announced details of its new programme for hospital buildings across the country which seems to indicate planned improvements to Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals will be delayed.

Health Secretary Steven Barclay made a statement to the Commons this Thursday (25 May) in which he outlined the way his ministry would be seeking to meet its manifesto commitment to build 40 ‘new’ hospitals.

It was disclosed that there are a number of buildings with a type of concrete which urgently needs replacement and these will be getting priority in the next phase of investment.

This means that an earlier commitment to undertake refurbishment and rebuilding work by 2030 at hospitals run by the Imperial College NHS Trust including Charing Cross and Hammersmith has been abandoned. A plan to fully rebuild St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington may also now not be completed by 2030 as originally planned.

The Health Minister explained that there are five hospitals in the UK which have been built with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) including Frimley Park in Surrey and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn. This lightweight form of concrete has a limited shelf-life and there are concerns about the structure of these buildings collapsing.

Mr Barclay told the House with regard to the improvements to the hospitals in west London, “The work will start on these schemes over the next two years but they will be part of a rolling programme where not all work will be completed by 2030.

“This is a reflection of the disruption that two years of the Covid pandemic has caused as well as the pressure from construction inflation.”

This postponement has been made despite NHS data showing that Charing Cross and Hammersmith have some of the biggest ‘high risk’ repairs needed at £155 million and £68 million respectively. High risk repairs are defined as those that need fixing to prevent catastrophic failure, major disruption to clinical services or safety failings resulting in serious injury.

The government says that it is implementing a £20 billion new hospital programme to be completed by 2030 which will see major projects undertaken at Hillingdon, Whipps Cross and Sutton as will as new facilities at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said, “Today's announcement on the New Hospital Programme does not reflect our understanding of next steps on the urgently needed redevelopment of our hospitals.

"We are continuing to explore, with the support of the New Hospital Programme, a range of practical funding and design options to ensure a full re-build of St Mary's Hospital - and a start on the major refurbishment and expansion schemes at Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals - by 2030.

"If we waited until 2030 to start building works at St Mary's, it would become impossible to continue to patch up our oldest facilities, many of which house key clinical services. As the provider of London’s busiest major trauma centre and host of the NHS’s largest biomedical research centre, that would be hugely damaging for the health and healthcare of hundreds of thousands of people."

Cllr Ben Coleman, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, “In 2019, having abandoned the planned demolition of Charing Cross Hospital, the government reversed course and agreed to complete a much needed ‘floor by floor’ refurbishment by 2030. Yesterday, Health Minister Stephen Barclay MP binned that pledge and also stopped vital planned improvements to other West London hospitals. That is truly dreadful news for local people.”

He added, “As we saw particularly during the pandemic, Charing Cross is an essential hospital. My colleagues and I are seeking urgent clarification from the government about what their plans for Charing Cross Hospital involve.

“As we did before, we will work with residents and medical experts to make the case for the refurbishment urgently to go ahead.”

Conservative Party chairman and Chelsea & Fulham MP Greg Hands said, “Disgracefully, Labour H&F Council has put out a lie that the refurbishment has been ‘scrapped’ - when the Department for Health has just confirmed it will be going ahead!”

He cited a statement from the Department of Health and Social Care which said, “The rebuild of St Mary’s Paddington, the full refurbishment of Charing Cross Hospital and new rebuild at Hammersmith Hospital will continue.”

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