With more delays announced, will a new hospital for Harlow ever be built?
News / Sat 23rd Oct 2021 at 12:18pm
PRINCESS Alexandra Hospital bosses have admitted that a new hospital for Harlow won’t be built for at least another six years.
Two years ago, there was much rejoicing when the prime minister, Boris Johnson visited Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).
Hospital staff flocked around the PM as he toured the “crumbling building” in Hamstel Road.
A year later, funding was confirmed for a new hospital.
But since then it has all gone a bit quiet on the new hospital front.
There has been news on planning applications for various parts of the current building but not the new building.
You could say it has gone from roof gardens to tumbleweed.
When we asked them a number of questions a few months ago, the hospital bosses said: “We are working with the national New Hospital Programme to complete our new hospital outline business case for submission in November 2021.
But it looks like that date is going to be missed.
On Friday, Lance McCarthy, chief executive, The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are working with the national New Hospital Programme to complete our new hospital outline business case for submission by spring 2022. We will then work towards the completion and submission of our full business case by spring 2023.
Then there is the question of when it will start and when it will be actually opening its doors?
Time and time again, a date of 2025 has been quoted.
However, when we asked a question on Friday, the hospital boss made reference to “our current timeline for the delivery of the new hospital by 2027.”
And one of the big big questions is whether they have actually bought any land in which to build a hospital.
There has been speculation that a landowner is proving a tough negotiator.
Back in May, the answer we got was “Our current plans include the purchase of land and this is factored into our current timeline for the delivery of the new hospital.”
This time they did not directly answer our question on whether they had bought and/or secured any land.
Many assume the new hospital will be near the new M11 junction but nothing appears to be certain.
In July, Private Eye reported that the health department wrote to the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) and asked them to submit three sets of proposals: their preferred scheme, options for building the project in phases, and a plan for a new build costing no more than £400 million.
YH understands that PAH comes in at £600 million.
The Harlow Conservatives openly derided this report at a recent council meeting.
Opposition politicians are clearly less than impressed with the latest delays.
Leader of the Harlow Labour group , cllr Chris Vince said: “We all want to see better health services for Harlow but the news that we will now not be seeing a new hospital for Harlow for at least another seven years, is a matter of deep concern.
“Once again, you had prime minister Boris Johnson backed by the Harlow MP coming to town making big promises about 48 new hospitals including Harlow
Recently, we heard that the budget for a new hospital in Harlow was to be reduced massively.
“You do wonder what is next?
Personally, I would not trust Borris, but would our own MP - until learning of these delays. Is Robert Halfon being fobbed off by his own party? If we could trust politicians more maybe more people would bother to vote. If more local Councillors responded to electors perhaps more might vote for them too.
One of the key reasons given by the board to relocate the hospital was that it would open sooner (at least a year sooner?) than if they were to remain on the current site. Recent revelations that the the money available is over £200 million short of what is needed and that a site has still not been bought (land prices can only be escalating in the meantime) must now throw serious doubt on that decision. The present site has all the services like gas and electricity already there and of course roads, which must surely mean such costs can be kept to a minimum. I would suggest that the board buy the former Square site and build a multi story car park on it, releasing all the parking areas on the site for a new hospital, built along side the existing one. The benefits of this include an easier transmission from the old to the new, staff living around the site would not have to relocate to the new hospital site, the footfall generated by staff and visitors would remain in the town centre and with better transport links into the hospital grounds (bus stops and taxi rank) this would reduce the number of visitors travelling by car.
Given this news, then surely it must cast doubts over the start of the development of the new Garden town at Gilston. The development should be put on hold until things are sorted out with the hospital first. PAH can barely cope with the existing numbers that live in the town as it is, any new development would be disastrous at the current time.
I agree with Nicholas Taylor. The Hospital is in the correct location and has the nursing accommodation adjacent, it's close to the Town centre and Train station and Existing Bus links. Knocking the existing building down and disassembling equipment is pure folly..