KGH redevelopment projects CAN be combined as hospital boss to meet Sajid Javid

They had previously been told they couldn't bring two funding streams together

Monday, 13th September 2021, 2:20 pm
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 2:22 pm
How the hospital could potentially look in the future – depending on how far it can progress its plans. The picture shows a view from Rothwell Road with a new entrance to hospital. Two of the three buildings on the skyline would be dependent on additional capital.

Two separate funding streams for the redevelopment of Kettering General Hospital CAN be combined to avoid delays, a Government minister has said.

The ageing Rothwell Road hospital - which sees the double the number of A&E patients the emergency ward was built for - has been earmarked for £46m for a new urgent care hub and £350m for a rebuild plan known as HIP2.

Hospital bosses had previously been told the two cash pots couldn't be meshed together. Kettering MP Philip Hollobone urged the Government to "do the sensible thing", warning the decision would mean plans for both the urgent care hub and rebuild would effectively rule the other out.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Kettering General Hospital.

And, speaking in the House of Commons on Friday (September 10), health minister Edward Argar confirmed the urgent care hub and HIP2 scheme "would be able to be brought together as part of the wider development".

Mr Hollobone and hospital chief executive Simon Weldon are now set to meet health secretary Sajid Javid tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss the plans.

The Kettering MP told the Northants Telegraph: “It is encouraging that the Department of Health has agreed that KGH can submit for approval an outline business case based on combining the £46m urgent care hub and the £350m HIP2 scheme together.

"The urgent care hub and the hospital redevelopment share a common set of enabling works including foundations, site preparation, a new road layout and a new power plant. KGH is now the very first hospital in the country on the list of the 40 hospital rebuilds to go through this initial enabling works assessment. If all goes well and there are no hiccups in the business case approvals process then above ground construction should be visible in early 2024.

Philip Hollobone.

“Detailed conversations continue about the exact funding mechanics, but the Government has agreed that in principle this is a sensible approach, and this is an encouraging step forward. Together with local MPs the hospital trust chief executive will be meeting face-to-face with Sajid Javid the health secretary on Tuesday to press the strength of our case.

"KGH is ready to go with an innovative, phased, value-for-money rebuild on its present site and now that this ambitious and sensible approach has secured the in principle agreement of the Government, KGH’s plans could become an exemplar hospital redevelopment that other hospitals could follow."

KGH boss Mr Weldon said plans had been submitted for approval and that they were waiting for "clarity on the funding" so they can get going.

Currently just 20 per cent of the Rothwell Road site is classed as 'fit for purpose' and the hospital has developed a once-in-a-generation plan to rebuild it on the same site.

Bosses say they need at least another £369m in funding - a total of £765m - to get to the third phase of a five-phase rebuild and make sure they aren't left behind.

If the two pots the hospital has already been promised are merged they would currently be used to build a new A&E department, new assessment beds, 12 new wards, a dedicated blue light road and a new energy centre.

The hospital's A&E is currently bursting at the seams with warnings of six-hour waits as attendances soar, with doctors urging people not to come unless it's a real emergency.

They now see up to 300 patients every single day, in a department that is sized to see just 110 safely. Over the next 10 years, the hospital expects the number of A&E attendances to increase by 30,000, equivalent to almost 80 extra patients every day.

The department was constructed in 1994 to cope with 45,000 attendances each year. Now, it is already at about 100,000 attendances a year. By 2045, 170,000 attendances are expected.

Mr Hollobone said: "As Kettering’s MP the redevelopment of KGH is my number one priority. I will do whatever I can to bring this about.

"With the large number of new houses being built locally and the rise in the local population across north Northamptonshire, local people all understand that we need to improve and expand KGH to provide us with the future hospital care we will all need."

On Twitter Mr Weldon added: "We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild KGH for the 21st century. Our hospital has been pushed to the limit during Covid - there is an unmissable chance to make it resilient for the future."