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Skanska ‘should pay’ hospital cladding bill

A local MP is calling for Skanska to pay compensation if it is found to have been at fault for installing combustible cladding on Cambridge’s New Papworth Hospital, which caused the project’s handover to be delayed.

Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust announced last week that it would not accept handover of the £165m building because some of the cladding on the ground and first floors uses combustible insulation, which it specifically did not want.

The trust said Skanska was assessing what remedial work would be needed and expected it to “take a number of months” before any work could be completed.

Speaking to Construction News, MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner said Skanska should pay any extra costs associated with replacing the cladding.

“I’ve written to them demanding answers – there will doubtless be arguments about liability, but the whole point of PFI was that risk is transferred,” he said.

“If it is found that the fault lies with Skanska, then I would expect to see appropriate compensation paid to the NHS.”

A spokesman for the trust said it expected to incur some extra cost based on keeping the old hospital open for longer, and was consulting its legal team about the “options available”.

Trust chief executive Stephen Posey said: “We are extremely disappointed that we will not be able to open our new hospital in September as planned.

“Our staff have been working extremely hard to prepare for the move, and it is incredibly frustrating to discover a problem with the building at this late stage.”

Mr Zeichner has also asked Skanska to reveal more details of when it found out about the problem cladding.

“What we really need to get to the bottom of is when this issue was first known about, and what actions were then taken,” he said.

“By leaving it until just before the building was to be handed over, many extra costs will have arisen with staff recruited, and retired, on the basis of a move that will now be delayed for months.”

A spokeswoman for Skanska said: “The Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has announced a delay to the opening of its new hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

“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.”

Hospital staff were due to start moving to the new site this month before it became fully operational in September.

New Papworth Hospital, which CN visited in January last year, will focus on specialist heart and lung treatment and is part of the larger Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

The hospital has been funded as part of a PF2 deal, with Skanska set to provide facilities management for it until 2040.

Elsewhere, Skanska had been lined up to take over from Carillion on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital.

The Treasury is currently exploring setting up a new PFI deal to complete the £350m hospital after it agreed with private financers to terminate the old agreement.

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