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Design issues help push cost of unfinished Carillion hospitals over £2bn

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Design problems have contributed to the price tag for two unfinished Carillion hospitals leaping to more than £2 billion, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said

Construction and fit-out of the 646-bed Royal Liverpool University Hospital, designed by American architect HKS and NBBJ, was almost complete when the UK’s second-largest contractor collapsed two years ago.

And the Midland Metropolitan hospital in Birmingham, designed by HKS and Edward Williams Architects, was about two-thirds complete.

A new report by the NAO has now said both hospitals will now open in 2022 at the earliest, a combined nine years late and £600 million over-budget.

Laing O’Rourke, the new contractor on the Royal Liverpool project, has had to tear out three floors of the building and start ‘major work’ installing steelwork and concrete to reinforce the building’s structure, according to the NAO.

Structural flaws were discovered by engineers at Arup after they made 3D models of the hospital. Arup was called into investigate cracks found in structural beams after Carillion had vacated the site.

The public spending watchdog also revealed that £50 million will be spent replacing cladding that does not conform to fire regulations on the hospital and that there are also problems with internal fire protection.

The NAO also revealed that Carillion told its client for the Midland Met, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, that subcontractor Aecom had cost it 23 weeks of delays due to problems finalising the detailed design of the hospital’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

However, Aecom contended that Carillion’s poor management had caused the delays by making multiple changes to the design.

The NAO said ‘it is not clear why the design problems at both hospitals occurred’ and noted that PFI deals were supposed to provide better design by transferring risk to the appropriate party.

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