REVEALED: Sheffield hospital’s £7m new wards bill after privately-built wing fails fire safety checks
Two new wards at a Sheffield hospital have been built at a cost to the NHS of £7m after a privately built wing failed fire safety checks and had to be closed.
The Hadfield wing at Northern General Hospital was closed in December after concerns were raised about the fire proofing it its walls, and has still not reopened seven months later.
The wing was originally only meant to be closed for a matter of months but the Star had learned that renovation work on the building has only just begun.
Because of the delay, two new ward buildings are being built off the hospital’s main Vickers corridor, with the first due to open in the next few months.
The Hadfield wing was built in 2007 using private finance initiative (PFI) money meaning that a building that cost just £25m to build will actually end up costing the taxpayer £122m.
Kajima, the Japanese company that built it is paying for the wing’s renovation but is not contributing any money to the new wards or any other knock on effects of the unexpected closure.
Kirsten Major, chief executive, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Work is underway on the rectification works required on the Hadfield Building at the Northern General Hospital.
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“It inevitably has taken some time to carry out scoping work to determine the appropriate repairs needed and this will need to continue to ensure all the necessary work is undertaken.
“We do not currently have a date when we will resume patient care in the building at the moment because this will depend on when the fire authority are satisfied all the appropriate conditions are met.
“Over the coming months we will be opening two additional permanent wards at the Northern General Hospital which will enable us to have extra beds over the main busy winter period and will also be used for services we were already planning to develop in the future.
“The wards will cost circa £7m but clearly we are currently not paying the unitary charge for Hadfield or indeed since it was closed.”
The Hadfield wing was built in 2007 under the private finance initiative scheme championed by the then Labour government.
The scheme allowed hospital trusts and other public sector bodies to get big capital projects built for them immediately, with money then paid back over the next 25 years.
It has been criticised however as being a ‘rip off’ for taxpayers which means the NHS ends up paying far more than it would have done had the building been paid for by the public sector up front.
Catherine McAndrew, from Sheffield Save Our NHS, said the new wards had simply added another £7m to the already exorbitant £122m bill to be paid for the Hadfield wing, which would have only cost £25.9m had it been built in house.
She added when they had inquired about the PFI contract through a Freedom of Information request, the trust withheld the information on grounds of commercial confidentiality.