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£206m Papworth hospital hit by 18-month delay

Exclusive: The £206m PFI project to build a new hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus has been delayed by more than a year, while the business case for the scheme has still not been approved.

Construction of the 300-bed facility was originally due to begin in late 2012, with completion scheduled for late 2015.

A contract was supposed to be signed with the main contractor in 2012.

The PFI process was due to take two years to finalise the contract with the selected PFI partner, and a further three years for construction and commissioning.

However, Construction News now understands the project will not begin until March 2014, while a main contractor has not yet been chosen. 

The hospital is now not expected to be completed until late 2016.

A spokesperson for the Papworth Hospital Trust said the scheme was expected to be approved by the Department of Health “later this month”, adding that the project was in “the final stages of the appointment business case approval process”.

The case has now been through several layers of approval, from trust to commissioner, to strategic health authority, to Department of Health, to Treasury, and is now with healthcare regulator Monitor for the third time to ensure its plans are “fully affordable without undue risk”.

A PFI consortium between Bouygues UK and Ecovert is facing off with a Skanska PFI team after a consortium between Laing O’Rourke, John Laing and Interserve dropped out of the running.

The three consortia were shortlisted from six bidding consortia in September 2010, after an OJEU tender notice went out on 3 August 2010.

Skanska’s bid team consists of Skanska Infrastructure Investment UK, Skanska Construction UK, Skanska Facilities Services and OCS.

The new hospital is to be based on an eight-acre site on the Cambridge Biomedial Campus, and will include a range of clinical facilities.

It was originally billed as worth £150m, but is currently listed in the Treasury’s pipeline with a value of £206m.

A Papworth Hospital Trust spokeswoman said: “Papworth too is very disappointed at the time taken to reach this stage, especially as we have been one of the best performing foundation trusts since our inception in 2004. 

“Papworth Hospital is a specialist cardiothoracic centre and as such more than 80 per cent of our income comes from the UK as a whole. However, as part of the Cambridge and Peterborough health economy, we understand the need for caution and additional scrutiny of our plans.

“On the current plan we would expect to reach financial close in March 2014 and construction completion is expected by December 2016. A deed of safeguard is required for this scheme.”

The DoH accepts that there have been delays to these schemes as they have adjusted to embedded affordability tests.

A spokeswoman said: “These requirements are embedded now. [These tests] have been introduced to ensure taxpayers money is spent wisely and NHS organisations are financially sustainable.”

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