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Risks of repeated Paddington Health Campus debacle grow

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The bosses of St Mary's Hospital, who led the controversial failed Paddington Health Campus (PHC) plan, have started working on a new scheme before addressing an explosive independent review into their previous effort.

The Lessons Learnedreport, published in September, was commissioned by the local Strategic Health Authority to see what went wrong with the previous £1 billion attempt. The study damns the PHC partners for failing to abandon the scheme at an earlier date, when it was clear they couldn't secure the land needed to press forward with the development.

It also makes recommendations for future developments at the site. One of the most important demands is that a land survey be carried out before any new work gets started - to see whether the entire plot can really be used for construction.

However, although St Mary's issued an OJEU notice for a major redevelopment of its site in August, when contacted by the AJ, St Mary's project manager and former PHC manager Nigel Hodson refused outright to confirm that any ground survey had taken place to date.

At least four MPs have now contacted the National Audit Office to call for a further investigation into what is now happening - and why.

John Randall MP, who has consistently spoken out on the subject of the campus in the House of Commons, questioned why an expert overseeing body had not yet been set up by the Department of Health to prevent a repeat of the PHC mess.

He said: 'It is surprising that St Mary's is selecting architects for a rebuild before the Department of Health has responded to the views of the independent Lessons Learned report. The Department of Health agreed the terms of reference for the review and is aware of the ensuing highly critical report.'

However, the protestations of a spokesperson for St Mary's contradicted what seems to be happening on the ground. The spokesperson said: '[We are producing] a detailed document [which is] the first step in the process of gaining approval for a major capital project like a new NHS hospital. [We will look at] land options [and] the costs and benefits of refurbishing the existing estate versus rebuilding. It will also take into full account recommendations from the independent review of the Paddington Health Campus project.'

by Rob Sharp

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