A new £100million women’s and children’s unit at Cornwall’s main hospital has been delayed and may now not be completed until 2027.
The new unit was announced as one of 40 “new hospitals” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019.
It had been hoped that work on the new women’s and children’s centre for Cornwall would have started last year with a view to completing the centre at Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro by 2024. However rising construction costs mean that the budget for the scheme is having to be reviewed.
Details of the new timetable for the scheme were revealed during a meeting of Cornwall Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee yesterday. Committee member Andrew George asked for an update on the women and children’s unit.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) chief executive Steve Williamson provided an update for councillors saying: “With construction costs rising due to inflation we have been asked for a further review of costs involved and will see a new business case being submitted later this year with a decision on funding may be done in January and if approved completion will be in September 2027.”
Speaking after the meeting Cllr George (Lib Dem), said: “This project has been trumpeted for so long now – I have heard it discussed privately that they are looking at 2030 for completion, but we have been told 2027 which is, in my view, optimistic considering the timetables.
“The Princess Alexandra Wing has been inadequate for decades and the investment which has been proposed is desperately needed. It is a very inadequate situation and we have been given all these promises from various Prime Ministers about new hospitals. [The delay] is a massive disappointment but not surprising. We have these big trumpeting of promises and then they quietly try and ditch projects.”
Asked whether he thought the new unit might not happen Cllr George said: “That is not an option, this has to happen and we have to find a way of it happening. It is a disgrace that it has been dragging on for so long, but there must be no let up in the pressure on the Government to deliver on this promise of funding for this new unit.”
The Prime Minister’s £850m scheme to deliver new hospitals and units was aiming to have them completed by 2030.
On the RCHT website the project is described as: “A new Women and Children’s Hospital is to be built at the heart of the Royal Cornwall Hospital site in Truro to replace the existing Princess Alexandra Wing.
“The new hospital, which will also provide the site’s new main entrance, will bring together all women and children’s services into one building. Services will include maternity, neonatal and paediatric care; obstetrics and gynaecology. Key features of the new building will be a consultant-led birthing suite; a midwife-led birthing suite; a neonatal intensive care unit with transitional care facilities; and a day assessment unit for maternity patients.
“The new Women and Children’s Hospital will have dedicated operating theatres to support the birthing suites, as well as dedicated operating theatres for gynaecological surgery. There will be a paediatric assessment unit for children who require urgent ambulatory care, and the fertility service will remain on site, with a range of therapies offered including support during early pregnancy.”