Government modular hospital designs delayed

Design standards for 27 government-pledged hospitals have not been published, despite being due in May.

The delay comes amid growing concerns that several projects in the New Hospital Programme (NHP) are unlikely to be completed before the 2030 deadline set by former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Last May, former health secretary Steve Barclay announced that the remaining schemes within the NHP would be constructed according to standardised designs that would embrace modern methods of construction (MMC).

Will Quince, then health minister, told parliament in October that he expected the designs – dubbed ‘Hospital 2.0’ – to be published in May this year.

After the election announcement, a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson told Construction News that the programme would continue “operational delivery” and work with NHS trusts on the design and construction of new hospitals “in line with general election guidance issued to the civil service and the NHS”.

The general election guidance states that no new decisions or announcements of policy or strategy can be made in the pre-election period.

A few weeks ago, a body representing NHS trusts told Construction News that central government ambiguity over funding and planning decisions had left confidence in the NHP “on increasingly shaky ground”.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, also warned that planning delays were likely to result in spiralling project costs.

CN previously revealed that two hospitals –  Whipps Cross University Hospital and Princess Alexandra Hospital – would be delayed past the 2030 deadline due to central government ambiguity over the NHP.

Project bosses of both hospitals reported they were waiting for central government decisions in order to progress with planning applications.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital strategy director told Essex County Council the government-issued standardised designs would be “key to taking forward our own plans”, while the Whipps Cross redevelopment director said the scheme was waiting for the NHP national business case to be approved by the Treasury.

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