New hospitals delayed for years because of Carillion collapse

17 January 2020, 09:28

File photo: A deserted Carillion building site in Manchester after the company's collapse
File photo: A deserted Carillion building site in Manchester after the company's collapse. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Two hospitals which were being built by engineering giant Carillion when it collapsed could be delayed by almost five years, according to an official report.

The Royal Liverpool, due to open in 2017, is now unlikely to open until at least 2022, although an opening date has not yet been set.

It is now predicted to cost over £1 billion to build and run the hospital, compared with the original £746 million, said the National Audit Office (NAO).

The Midland Metropolitan, due to open in Smethwick in October 2018, is now expected to open in the summer of 2022, at a cost of at least £988 million, over £300 million more than the original amount, said the report.

The taxpayer is expected to pay £709 million of this, an increase of 3 per cent from the original figure, said the NAO.

The private sector has borne most of the cost increase, with shareholders, investors, insurers and Carillion losing at least £603 million on the construction of both projects, it was found.

The NAO said there were significant construction problems and delays before Carillion went into liquidation in January 2018 but the contractor's collapse created more delay.

Work on both sites stopped while the hospital Trusts, government and the private investors attempted to rescue the projects.

The full extent of construction problems at Royal Liverpool began to emerge after Carillion collapsed and over the course of 2018, said the NAO.

The new construction contractor has had to strip out three floors of the building and start major work to reinforce the structure with steelwork and additional reinforced concrete.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the report made "grim reading", adding: "Two desperately needed hospitals are going to be years late and in the meantime local communities are left with facilities that are no longer fit for purpose.

"The responsibility for these delays has to lie squarely at the door of the government, which consistently failed to prioritise the overriding need that these hospitals had to be built.

"While the report notes the financial cost of the projects, the human cost of the delays of completing the hospitals has not been recognised."

A Government spokesman said: "As this report shows, the private sector has borne the brunt of Carillion's catastrophic failure to complete these two projects.

"To support staff and local communities in Sandwell and Liverpool, we're giving both Trusts the funding they need to minimise the delays caused by the collapse of Carillion and get these two new hospitals open."

Jon Trickett, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: "Carillion's collapse was a disaster and people are still paying a heavy price.

"New hospitals that should already be open and serving the public will not be ready for years. This is completely unacceptable, and the Conservatives must take responsibility for being asleep at the wheel.

"In our manifesto we promised to bring an end to outsourcing, and stories like these show how necessary this is."