The trust behind the new West Suffolk Hospital said it is "on track" to open in 2030, despite fears that the government programme behind it has been marred by “delay, indecision and soaring costs”.

In 2020, the government announced its New Hospital Programme (NHP) which pledged to build 40 hospitals by 2030, including the Bury St Edmunds facility. 

In May 2023, ministers committed to prioritising rebuilding facilities that included reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

However, Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said "delay, indecision and soaring costs" are impacting projects and called for clarity on funding.

He said: "Trust leaders and local people want to see the promise of ‘new hospitals’ honoured. They know these projects can transform services for patients and staff.

“While there has been some welcome progress, the bigger picture is one of delay, indecision and soaring costs which the NHS, taxpayers and patients can ill afford. Trusts urgently need clarity from the Government on funding and next steps.

“But this is one part of a much bigger problem about the scale of underinvestment across the NHS estate. More than 100 trusts applied to join the NHP and the NHS repairs bill is now at a staggering £11.6billion, much of it high-risk. We cannot afford to let this problem get worse.

“As we head towards a general election, trust leaders want a cast-iron commitment from all political parties to an NHS infrastructure programme that meets the needs of hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance services.”

East Anglian Daily Times: West Suffolk Hospital is being rebuiltWest Suffolk Hospital is being rebuilt (Image: Newsquest)

Despite this, a spokesperson for the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed progress for the new Bury St Edmunds hospital project is on track. 

"The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s programme to deliver a new hospital is on track, with construction commencing post-2025 and a forecasted opening date in 2030," they said.

"We are continuing to prepare the new site for construction and are working closely with the New Hospital Programme to maximise the opportunities that the centralised national design and programme can bring, to deliver this new hospital as quickly as possible.

"Alongside this, due to our ageing estate and the prevalence of RAAC across much of our West Suffolk Hospital site, the Trust has undertaken a significant programme of works to support our RAAC infrastructure to ensure the safety of patients, staff, and visitors." 

In terms of the NHP, the trust has acquired the Hardwick Manor site, had outline plans approved by the council and commenced enabling work including archaeological trenching and buffer tree planting. 

The trust said so far capital spending related to RAAC safety works amounts to £74m since 2019/20. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Hardwick Manor has been purchased for the new hospital projectHardwick Manor has been purchased for the new hospital project (Image: Justin Paget Photography Ltd)

The trust said they introduced several safety measures to help manage the site following detailed analysis of its RAAC infrastructure, including a continuous  survey and assessment programme assessing the condition of RAAC planks.

If an issue is found, remedial and mitigating work is undertaken immediately and short-term, temporary props installed to reinforce the plank.

The trust said that, as of May 2024, 88% of roof planks have precautionary supports in place, and the majority of these are failsafe roof supports.

There have been no plank failures at the West Suffolk Hospital.