Liverpool

Autumn decision on Royal Liverpool Hospital rebuild

Artist's impression of new Royal Liverpool
Image caption Work on the new hospital could start in 2012

Hospital chiefs must wait until autumn before hearing if the £451m rebuild of the Royal Liverpool has been dropped.

Plans for the new 643-bed hospital were approved in March, but the new coalition government is considering scrapping the project.

Labour MP for Wallasey, Angela Eagle, has said that delaying the decision could put the whole project at risk.

But Health Minister Simon Burns told Parliament on Wednesday there would be no quick decision and urged "patience".

"We will have to wait until the autumn for a decision when the spending review is concluded and determined," he told the Commons.

"I would just urge in the nicest possible way for honourable members, however difficult it is - and if I was a constituency MP in Liverpool I would be in the same position as them - however frustrating it is, I urge patience and let's wait."

Previous health secretary Andy Burnham said the new Royal would "lead the way" in regional healthcare when the project was approved in March.

But the Treasury is re-evaluating all projects given the go-ahead since January as part of a widespread spending review.

Building work on the hospital will cost £328m and was set to be funded through Private Finance Initiative (PFI) cash.

Front line services

The remaining £123m was earmarked on the purchasing of equipment and demolishing the old Royal.

"The uncertainty with a PFI project can create all kinds of difficulties with the funding arrangements," Ms Eagle said.

"If the delay is too extensive they can no longer be workable or put together properly because the private sector has to raise its money in other ways through the markets."

The government has said it is committed to protecting "front line" NHS services and the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, Louise Ellman, said the project should fall into that category.

"I want to make it very clear that replacing the Royal is about improving frontline healthcare for the people of Liverpool and of the region," she told the Commons.

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