Man who led delayed bid for UK Health Security Agency to move to Harlow jumps ship to lead delayed bid for new hospital

Health / Thu 6th Jun 2024 at 01:24pm

THE man who has led the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) delayed bid to create a giant health campus at Harlow has jumped ship, shortly before an announcement is expected over its future.

And in a surprise move, Martin John has been appointed with an annual salary (we understand) in excess of £110,000 to lead Princess Alexandra Hospital’s New Hospital Programme, another major project which seems to have stalled.

UKHSA’s programme which Mr John led from 2019 to recent weeks, drew criticism in a recent National Audit Office (NAO) which highlighted serious delays and rising costs.

And last week, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the programme for “spiralling costs”, a “failure to deliver” and a “timeline that has been been extended continuously”

The PAC spoke of “no accountability” for the rising costs and questioned whether UKHSA had the expertise to complete the project.

One of its recommendations said: “Given the troubled delivery performance by UKHSA, that consideration be given to setting up an entirely new delivery agency for this large, expensive nationally important departmental programme.”

The campus is planned for the former GSK site at the Pinnacles in Harlow but doubts over its future have increased as the National Audit Office (NAO) report revealed costs had increased from the original £530m to £3.2 billion and delays meant the date it would go fully operational went from 2021 to the latest estimate of 2036.

The huge increase in costs have cast doubt over Harlow being chosen as the location for the campus. An alternative campus at UKHSA’s Porton in Wiltshire is now a possibility.

If that were to happen it would be a hammer blow to Harlow. The campus is viewed as a centrepiece of the town’s regeneration, providing large numbers of job opportunities and pumping millions of pounds in to local the local economy.

So what of Mr John’s appointment?

A Princess Alexandra Hospital spokesperson said: “The Director of the New Hospital Programme role at PAHT is not a new role.

The role has been in place since 2020 and has been filled by a colleague who recently retired. The post was advertised and attracted significant interest and after a comprehensive selection process, Martin John was appointed to the role.

“The main responsibility of the role is to lead the delivery of the new Princess Alexandra Hospital. This includes working with the national programme to deliver the business case strategy, growing and developing the programme team, managing and integrating external suppliers and advisors, and liaison with a wide range of external stakeholders.

PAH Director Michael Meredith at sit of proposed new hospital off M11

“The role also involves managing the delivery of other strategic capital projects for PAHT, including the development of the Community Diagnostic Centre at St Margaret’s Hospital”.

As our readers will know, the date of a new hospital has been pushed back on several occasions. A large number of problems are still yet to be resolved.

With a General Election. just a month away and the likelihood that Labour will be in power, there is speculation that the new political bosses may cast a forensic eye over all planned health and hospital bids including the UKHSA move to Harlow and the bid for a new hospital off Junction 7a of the M11.

A number of people have suggested that a compromise may be the UKHSA staying in Wiltshire and PAH moving to the Pinnacles. That may be where Martin John comes in.

For assistance, here are the stories that we have published relating to a new hospital since we started in 2013.


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21 Comments for Man who led delayed bid for UK Health Security Agency to move to Harlow jumps ship to lead delayed bid for new hospital:

Tony Edwards
2024-06-06 14:52:45

So what's new? The previous Chief Exec at PAH has gone to Surrey to lead on guess what - The building of a new hospital. Millions of pounds spent with nothing to show for it. Yet another example of "laser focused efficiency" by an inept Conservative administration.

2024-06-06 15:30:19

We have a hostpital that is seriously over crowded, and we have the GSK site sitting there empty for years. There are probbly good reasons for not doing it, but as suggested above why not consider moving part (or all) of the hospital to the GSK site. There is plenty of car parking space there.

2024-06-06 16:25:36

So, someone who failed to get one project off the ground is now being paid a load of money to lead a project that has already failed. You couldn't make this stuff up.

Guy Flegman
2024-06-06 16:32:14

The joy of working in the public sector. No accountability and bonuses for not hitting targets. Remember folks it’s our money that is paying for this sort of thing.

Harlow resident
2024-06-06 16:37:24

£110,000 salary no wonder he looks so smug....

2024-06-06 17:16:01

There's more on the UKHSA Porton Down replacement here: https://bylinetimes.com/2024/06/06/rnew-porton-down-costs-spike-500-and-facility-15-years-behind-schedule-and-nothing-was-done-to-prevent-it/ It is a story of Conservative delays and Conservative incompetence.

2024-06-06 19:19:09

Both projects are a mess. Moving PAH out of Harlow into Epping district away from bus and train stations and where many of the workforce work will speed and guarantee the further decline of the town centre. There's sufficient space on the current PAH site to start a new building tomorrow. As for the GSK site, the whole project has degenerated into a costly farce, it shows sheer incompetence on the part of all agencies involved including, it appears, Mr John.

2024-06-06 20:32:44

What a bunch of worthless tw*ts, over paid to underperform.

2024-06-06 21:08:24

This is why I am so anti tax, civil service muppets like this move about from one department to another, achieving nothing but moving on to another high paying post (it is a club). Go look at his Linkedin no roles of any substance or real world experience outside the public sector. Of course he has the obligatory MBA, so I bet his power point skills are great. We honestly should fire 80% of the civil service especially at the Senior Civil Service and Senior management levels they are mostly useless.

2024-06-06 22:25:37

Only in the public sector do you get rewarded for failure!

2024-06-06 23:10:38

Boris promised that new hospital would open in 2024. Now it's projected to open in 2032. Hopefully people will remember all the lies told by the Conservatives over the last decade and not vote for them.

Rickie Pennell
2024-06-07 03:50:30

The money that has been wasted in the town is incredible, with so many council up and down the country in bankruptcy Im sure it won't belong before Harlow will follow ,Labour and Conservative both to blame . Here we are wasting money on a hospital that will never be built under any government. It is more likely that the NHS will be private before long .Let's face it with a decade of misguided discussion from both governments the town has fallen to bits . It's time to think long and hard were we won't our town to be .With crime and anti social behaviour and a drug problem and lack of housing for younger people in the town why are we paying someone who has failed projects in the past a ridiculously high amount of money for something that will never happen in the next 20 years . Regeneration of the town starts in schools and pride and respect is learnt at home and in communities. We spend more money on art and keeping the half empty town hall heated and lit up than anything else . Wakeup people the town needs more pride and respect within communities. Look at what has been created in the last 10 years nothing we have sold of the crematorium we have had to knock down a newly built school Guildan way great project but still not finished, And soon a new built mass of housing being built at the Harlow station side of town . But still they won't us to believe they are going to build a brand new hospital. It will never happen under Conservative or Labour government. Privatisation is there next step with who ever gets in.Harlow town is corrupt and always has been perfect swimming pool in the town knock it down the build a new one that no one can afford to use a good football club and ski slop knock it down and build houses on it but put the football club the wrong end of town . Okay the town park is great pets corner is fantastic but not due to the government it was not that long ago they wanted it gone so they could build on it . We're we go from here I don't know but look around you see what's happening money that hard working taxes payers pay in to the system and council tax that hard working people are paying being spent with no consideration for you the people. Let's hope in the next 20 years the town doesn't get worse. Let's bring pride and value back in to the town . Time to reform a new generation.

2024-06-07 05:48:02

Why not put the hospital in the already existing PHE building that has had £400 million spent on it with nothing to show and doesn't look like it will ever be continued, or is that too easy.

Nicholas Gunning
2024-06-07 08:56:49

"Dead cat" is the hallmark of Harlow Council and Harlow Health admins. Promise of a new hospital on leasehold scrubland next to a motorway never was serious, likewise the health agency. But, of course, highly paid executives and ghost administration have been in place for five years. This waste of resources has ancestry! When Boris Johnson was Mayor of London there were a number of highly dubious projects where management and consultants were appointed- the fraud was on a local authority scale rather than a national government scale: a bigger budget, a bigger misuse of funds. Harlow has a central site which it owns and has space for development, with public transits m transport connections (one contributor suggesting the 'new site' has room for car parking has little appeal for those most likely to need a hospital, but no car access); Part of the reason the site is m seems overcrowded is because there are insufficient staff to run more capacity! Where will the staff for this phantom hospital with its motorway barriers and toxic air, fantastic ground rent and implausible executives come from? It seems that telling less severe, self diagnosed patients to pop to the chemist instead is the big idea. But that doesn't require £100,000 a year executive salaries! The Tory model is clear: paupers go to the Apothecary, chronic cases go to the (privatised) clinics, and the wealthy get treatment from surgeons! Just like the good old days- dozens of politicians, snouts in the trough, and the NHS? A branch of the civil service to control the dwindling budget, without a medical practitioner among them. Even COVID didn't stop the program!

David Forman
2024-06-07 09:24:12

The National Audit Office report into the PHE fiasco should have guaranteed Martin John a trip to the Job Centre. Despite the incentive of a £110k salary, I doubt he will achieve much in his new role at PAH, especially as the negotiations for the land purchase are not going well. This will inevitably lead to a Compulsory Purchase Order and the landowner appealing the decision. More and more delays which will escalate costs to an unacceptable level. Never mind, only taxpayers money.

2024-06-07 10:12:42

People who get educated then work hard generally get financially rewarded. However if you get lucky kids, forget Uni just get a job in the public sectors, where mugs in the private sector who pay taxes which gets given to public sector workers as a reward for failure! 😱

Stephen Archer
2024-06-07 11:10:56

Harlow and the surrounding districts are due a huge apology from the Conservatives. Harlow is not going to get the world-leading public health laboratories and campus (UKHSA) they promised which would have been central to Harlow's regeneration. It would have put Harlow firmly on the map, nationally and internationally, at the centre of the M11 life sciences corridor between Cambridge and London and near Stansted airport for direct access to Europe. In September 2015 it was definitely going ahead. Chancellor George Osborne said so. It was going to cost £350m. Well nine years later more than £400m has been spent. Even allowing for the pandemic, the project should have been in the final stages by now. And what have we got? NOTHING. And where's the money gone? Who knows. Now the Conservatives are canvassing for your vote. What have they done with our money? Why have they betrayed the people of Harlow? And while I'm at it, where are the benefits of Brexit? Where are 40 new hospitals Boris Johnson promised? I notice Robert Halfon has stepped away from the Conservative carousel of chaos. I don't blame him. My only surprise is that the Conservatives actually have the nerve to put up a candidate in Harlow.

2024-06-07 14:07:40

I was asked to look into a New Hospital a few years ago. Part funding I suggested could be found from New Builds. As for siting the only place suitable is near junction 7aM11. Increasing Patient Traffic in Central Harlow would be nothing short of Bonkers, it can't cope with surges at the moment.

Mark Lavender
2024-06-07 15:04:30

Jobs for the boys. And yes it usually is for the menfolk. Don't see many women get onto this merry-go-round. Too tired to keep mentioning how the two main plans aimed at Harlow are working out.

2024-06-07 18:49:51

Knee jerk reaction maybe but he’s failed to deliver before and now he’s appointed to deliver a much needed and well overdue health program for Harlow and surrounding areas…..maybe not the wisest move.

2024-06-07 21:13:39

Nothing more needs to be said. Adam, Pedro and Rickie Pennell just about sums it up.

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