‘The Big Build’ would see two new hospital blocks built, one at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital site in the city centre and the other at the Birmingham Women’s Hospital in Edgbaston.
Birmingham Women’s & Children’s (BWC) NHS Foundation Trust says that both hospitals are beyond the ‘make do and mend’ stage and it is time for new build. It estimates that it would cost £763m to repair what is currently there up to an acceptable standard, compared to £442m for new construction.
A design team of BDP, Arup, Archus and WT Partnership has been awared the design contract following a competitive tender process.
Construction work could begin by 2023, it says, with doors opening in 2025, subject to funding approval.
The money could come from a combination of receipts from the sale of vacated land at the Steelhouse Lane site in the city centre, supported by national funding and fundraising support through the trust’s charity.
BWC acting chief executive David Melbourne said: “We are proud of the amazing care our colleagues provide on a daily basis but they do that in an estate that is well beyond its operational life. Our children and young persons services are being delivered on a site opened in 1897 and our Women’s Hospital is more than 50 years old.
“Our teams have done a great job in recent years with a make do and mend approach but the cost of that in terms of annual maintenance is growing and is not sustainable. These buildings are well past their natural life and are not suitable to providing the spaces and facilities we need for modern care.
“Our Big Build proposal will provide value for money and unlock huge potential for the development of our existing and new services; opening the door to a new wave of research and innovation tapping into the many world class individuals we are lucky to call colleagues.”
The project would also allow the refurbishment of existing spaces once the new buildings are operational.
A plan to carry out initial enabling works, including the demolition of the two vacant buildings, and the appointment of contractors to progress the proposals has been agreed by the trust board. Work will now begin on a detailed outline business case.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the trust’s chairman, a former Birmingham surgeon and national medical director for the NHS, said: “The Children’s Hospital is now 123 years old, the infrastructure is crumbling, the wards are cramped and the Victorian architecture, while beautiful from the outside, is simply not fit for the practice of current complex medicine, let alone fit for a future of increasing complexity.
“Similarly, the Women’s Hospital is struggling to function at 30% above the capacity for which it was designed 60 years ago.
“Despite the outdated estate our clinicians continue to provide essential regional and national highly specialist services and conduct leading edge research. This is simply unsustainable in the current set of buildings given the very real implications of evolving medical science and technology for advanced diagnostics and medical therapies.”