Let's get on with it, Kettering MP tells ministers over KGH rebuild funding

The hospital has been told it can't bring two funding streams together

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:00 am

Kettering's MP has called on Government ministers to engage 'Project Speed' so the town can have a hospital it will be proud of - and he wants an early advance on funding.

Currently just 20 per cent of the ageing 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.

The Government has earmarked £396m for them - £350m for the rebuild plan known as HIP2 and £46m for an urgent care hub - but the hospital was told it can't mesh the two funding streams together.

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An artist’s impression of what the Urgent Care Hub could look like, replacing A&E and short stay urgent care wards, with extra inpatients beds on the higher floors. This would be completed in the first phase of the development.

And Kettering's Conservative MP Philip Hollobone has urged the Treasury to take the sensible way forward by engaging 'Project Speed' and giving permission to bring the funding streams together to avoid a delay.

Mr Hollobone told the Northants Telegraph: "This would represent the best way in terms of value for money for getting the badly needed improvements to our local hospital which we all want to see.

"I will continue to lobby the Government on behalf of local people to take this sensible way forward."

In November we revealed KGH's ambitious rebuild plan, although hospital bosses said they needed at least another £369m in funding to make sure they aren't left behind.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone.

If the two pots the hospital has been promised are merged they would be used to build a new A&E department (which should be open in 2024), new assessment beds, 12 new wards, a dedicated blue light road and a new energy centre.

Mr Hollobone recently met with the Minister of State for Health to discuss the rebuild. The Government's New Hospital Programme (NHP) team met hospital bosses earlier this month to understand the progress made to date on the two schemes and 'explore options' for increasing alignment between them, including combining the funding streams, a Government spokesman said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Project Speed will ensure that we are building the right things better and faster than before, cutting down the time taken to develop, design and deliver vital infrastructure projects.

“As part of this strategy, we are working with the Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to make sure that the best way forward for Kettering General Hospital is progressed efficiently and collaboratively.”

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.

Speaking in Parliament Mr Hollobone said 'promises are one thing and delivery is another' and added that not being allowed permission to mesh funding streams could cause a funding delay.

Also urging ministers give an early advance of HIP2 funding, he said: "Building the original urgent care hub is no longer an option on a stand-alone basis because there would not be enough room on the site for the HIP2 funding, so the value for money solution is to integrate the two funding streams.

"Kettering General Hospital is ready to go on this. It owns the land, so no land deals are required, and no public consultation is needed. It has written support from local planners and the regional NHS.

"It is a phased approach that would deliver visible and real benefits. It is shovel-ready and has far lower risks than other hospital build projects.

"In developing this whole-site plan, the hospital has identified the best way of delivering value for money to get these buildings up and operating, serving local people. However, the hospital is being told that it is not allowed to mesh the two funding streams together, and the result could be that we do not have an urgent care hub and we have a delay in the HIP2 funding."

Kettering General Hospital’s director of strategy, Polly Grimmett, said it makes logistical and financial sense to bring the funding streams together.

She said: “We very much appreciate the continued support of our local MP, Mr Hollobone, and all of our other partners, for our plans to create a much-improved hospital site using Government funding allocated for an urgent care hub and HIP2.

“Logistically and financially it makes a lot of sense for us to integrate our new urgent care hub with medical assessment areas and wards, as this supports clinical efficiencies and allows us to then continue redeveloping the rest of the site. Hence we would support the idea of enabling us to bring the two funding streams together so we can progress improvements together and at pace.

“We have been very open about our ambitions to modernise the Kettering General Hospital site and why it is so fundamental to providing high quality care fit for the 21st century. However, we do of course appreciate that public funding is tight due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In November hospital bosses said they would be lobbying for more cash and that they needed a total of £765m to get to phase three of their overall plan, which they say would make a real difference.

With that cash it would also be able to replace the majority of wards, relocate critical care, create six new operating theatres, new imaging and diagnostic facilities and refurbish retained buildings, as well as other improvements.

It ruled out building a new hospital elsewhere because of a huge shortfall in funding and "crazy" interest charges, chief executive Simon Weldon revealed.