Whipps waits on funding approval with hospital construction date uncertain

Whipps Cross bosses are no longer sure when construction will start on the new hospital because the government has yet to approve funding.

The Whipps Cross redevelopment team originally hoped to begin work on the Leytonstone hospital by 2023 and reach completion by 2026, although redevelopment manager Alastair Finney warned the “window of opportunity” to meet this target may now be missed.

Last week, he told a meeting of the board of Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, that this was because the treasury will not approve funding for any of 40 new planned UK hospitals until “spring this year”.

Mr Finney told the board: “I do now need to report that… we are no longer able to work for previously prescribed milestones or indeed to confirm when the construction will begin.

“We do continue to work with colleagues, and do recognise the importance of maintaining momentum overall.”

Chair in common of Barts and BHRUT NHS trusts Jacqui Smith added: “Those things depending on us have made good process.

“It’s bizarre because you would have thought the government would want some good news around building hospitals.”

Mr Finney said demolition is nearly finished at the nurses’ accommodation corner of the Whipps Cross site, where the new hospital is planned, and the outline plan has been referred to the London Mayor’s office for approval.

Due to start in “late spring,” the next stage of construction is a multi-storey car park, which is needed to make up for a loss of spaces on the site of the existing hospital.

A report prepared for the board says the Whipps Cross revelopment programme ended 2021 in a “strong position,” ready for the “green light” to submit an outline business case and find a construction partner.

A campaign by Waltham Forest and Redbridge Councils, named #WhippsWontWait has gained 10,000 signatures since its launch in October last year.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) have been approached for comment.

A DHSC spokesperson previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the government is committed to building 48 new hospitals by 2030 in a £3.7billion programme.

They added: “We are working closely with all NHS Trusts within the programme to plan how and when new hospitals will be built across the decade.”

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter