Campaign group to protest at hospital site

NHS anniversary marked by call for public funding to build unfinished project.

Local health campaign group Keep Our NHS Public Birmingham is reiterating its demand that the government step in immediately with a publicly-funded solution to the crisis at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick, by planning an NHS 70th birthday celebration tonight at 5:30pm with a public protest outside the site of the uncompleted project left by the collapse of building firm Carillion.

Their demand echoes that of the Hospital Trust’s Chief Executive, Toby Lewis, who has said that “exploring a public finance solution” is one of the options now left to resume building the hospital, which the Trust has said is now going to be delayed until 2022.

Local campaigners are angry that the promised new hospital has been delayed by the complex private finance arrangements which they criticised in their report The Right Hospital and the Right Size by Dr John Lister published in Summer 2016 with the support of Birmingham Trades Union Council.

A building industry specialist publication has already revealed last month that the Treasury has cancelled the existing PFI/2 contract when the banks backing the project pulled out earlier last month.

KONP Birmingham said that this was now a “golden opportunity for common sense to prevail” and get the building work restarted using public finance as a government-procured construction job. This would then ensure that any company taking on the building work avoids what Dr Lister in his report calls the “questionable assumption of transferred risk”.

A spokesman for Keep our NHS Birmingham said: “PFI/PF2 was supposed to result in a transfer of risk to private sector, but we have ended up picking up the pieces. We are celebrating the NHS’s 70th Birthday this Thursday – July 5th – to demand that the Government brings the Midland Met Hospital project back under proper public control, with sustainable financing.

“It was always going to be cheaper to build this hospital using Government financing and a better way to borrow the money at current interest rates, so let’s get our new local hospital up and running quickly. This is a golden opportunity for common sense to prevail and to provide improved services to the patients of Sandwell and West Birmingham.”