Revelations that a West Midlands NHS Trust is facing a bill of £400 million to complete the unfinished Midland Metropolitan hospital, has led to Unite (the UK and Ireland’s largest union) renewing its call for an immediate criminal investigation into the original contractor Carillion, which collapsed in January.

In papers prepared for yesterday’s (4 December) board meeting of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Tony Lewis the chief executive has admitted that it will cost £400 million to complete the Midland Metropolitan hospital and keep the existing City hospital operational until 2022, when the new hospital is now due to become operational.

Three year delay

The Midland Metropolitan hospital was set to have been completed this year but due to initial delays and the fact that the site has substantially deteriorated since work ceased when Carillion collapsed, there will be over a three year delay in the project.

The original budget for the project was £350 million of which Carillion had already received £205 million before its collapse. The £400 million bill faced by the trust, and ultimately paid for by the taxpayer, is to complete the hospital and also the cost of the work to reopen wards at City hospital which were due to be demolished.

Figures truly staggering

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “These figures are truly staggering. It is outrageous that the taxpayer is going to have to pay more to get the project completed than the entire original budget.

"In September Unite called for an immediate criminal investigation into the directors and senior managers responsible for Carillion’s collapse and I am renewing that call, as the cost of the company’s recklessness continues to spiral.”

Distorted accounts

Unite regional officer Su Lowe said: “Carillion’s directors distorted their accounts and continued to trade when the company was insolvent. Taxpayers are being forced to pay tens if not hundreds of millions to clear up the mess, if that is not criminal behaviour, it certainly should be.

“In a desperate bid to keep treating patients the trust is being forced to reopen wards which have been closed and were due to become houses. This in itself is spending millions of pounds on what is at best a short term fix.”

Last month Unite wrote to Mr Lewis seeking assurances that measures would be put in place to ensure that when work does restart on the hospital construction workers are not exploited.

Unite is asking that: industrial agreement governing pay and conditions are adhered to, local labour and suppliers are used, workers are directly employed, exploitative forms of employment such as umbrella companies are outlawed and trade unions are both recognised and given full access to the site.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Building Magazine: Cost of Midland Met delays set to top £400 million

Construction of Midland Metropolitan hospital must not exploit workers

Unite calls for criminal investigation into Carillions collapse

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.