Royal Liverpool January
The NAO report suggested the total cost of the Royal Liverpool Hospital could reach more than £700m

Royal hospital rescue plan to be revealed in March

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

The trust behind the delivery of the new Royal Liverpool Hospital is set to reveal its plan for the completion of the long-awaited project, which could take a further two years and cost £724m.

The scheme, which started in 2014, was due to complete in 2017 but has suffered delays due to the collapse of its original main contractor Carillion, and a plethora of structural issues. The project is now expected to cost at least £724m, compared with £350m in the original business case, according to the National Audit Office report released earlier this month.

A report to the board of the Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust, which meets today, said progressing construction and remedial works “remained the Trust’s key focus”.

Cladding “remains the critical issue on the site”, as well as completing structural interventions, “some of which were highly complex and unique to the project”.

The Trust responded to the publication of the NAO report, which the Trust said highlighted the “complex issues that the demise of Carillion presented” when the contractor went bust in 2018.

A submission date of March 2020 is now expected for a finalised business case, which will outline confirmed costs and next steps, and would be put to regulator NHS Improvement.

Despite the delays to the first phase of the new Royal Liverpool project, the Trust said it was exploring delivering phase two and three of the Royal Liverpool planning application; which would see the demolition of the old hospital and creation of an underground car park and public plaza.

The increased project cost of the new Royal Liverpool building includes an estimated £293m for remedial work to the structure and to complete the construction, which is intended to replace the existing buildings and create one of the largest emergency departments in the North West.

According to the NAO report, the project is now expected to complete in autumn 2022, five years after the initial planned opening date of June 2017, although the Trust is yet to confirm an opening date. The Trust’s chief executive Steve Warburton confirmed in December: “People are likely to be at the existing hospital for the next three winters, opening in 2022,”

Carillion had pushed back completion from 2017 to February 2018, and then again by several months, after it found cracks in concrete beams and asbestos in the ground. Since the contractor went into administration, further issues were uncovered during a structural review by Arup in 2018, including that the cladding on the building was unsafe, which has added extra costs and time to the scheme.

Laing O’Rourke is the new main contractor and the trust launched a tender this month, valued at between £10m and £20m, for a contractor to remove and replace the faulty cladding.

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