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Carillion: Midland hospital trust fought site sackings

The NHS trust behind the £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital has said it “sought to prevent” redundancies among Carillion construction staff, according to board papers.

In his April report to the board of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, its chief executive Toby Lewis described the redundancies as “deeply regrettable”, adding that they “increase the risk of delay to the project”.

Mr Lewis told the board that an interim contractor to take on the scheme had yet to be appointed, with the public body facing contractual and commercial issues.

The NHS chief added that next month represented a “decision moment” for both the trust and the government.

“The redundancies announced by [Carillion liquidation special manager] PwC, which we had sought to prevent, are deeply regrettable and increase the risk of further delay to the project,” he said.

“The urgency of a new build opening is apparent to us all.

“Any delay beyond March 2020 has to be considered extremely sub-optimal and it is important that the views and pressures of those providing care are clearly heard and responded to in the evaluation of options.”

Skanska is understood to be the contractor in line to take over the £350m Midland Metropolitan project after Kier revealed last month it was out of the running.

The trust has also prepared for the possible liquidation of the private finance initiative body delivering the scheme, according to minutes from the trust’s major projects authority committee in February, which were published alongside the board papers.

In the minutes, the trust committee acknowledges that if the PFI body – known as the Hospital Company – was to be placed into insolvency by its lenders, there would be a major impact on current contracts and cashflow.

There was no further update on this possibility in the accompanying board papers, but the minutes show that a decision is expected in the coming weeks and that the trust’s board would be informed of any additional emergency meetings required to make those decisions.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and the Insolvency Service have been contacted for comment.

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