The opening of the £650 million Midland Metropolitan University Hospital has been hit by yet another delay - with the 'super hospital' now unlikely to launch until 2023.
Sandwell NHS trust bosses were due to announce a date for the opening of the new hospital next summer, but have now revealed a 2022 opening is unlikely because of the impact of the pandemic - putting the project five years behind schedule.
Timeline: How the hospital at Grove Lane in Smethwick has been impacted by delays...
2018: The collapse of the original contractor, Wolverhampton-based construction giant Carillion, plunged construction into crisis.
2020: No fresh work was done on the hospital until two years later, just before the pandemic.
2021: Bosses said there is “further work to do” with contractor Balfour Beatty, who rescued the project after Carillion's collapse.
2023: Officials at the Sandwell Trust said they would now work to "confirm a firm 2023 opening date that our patients, staff and partner organisations can have confidence in," meaning building work would finish five years behind the original target date.
How has the NHS responded to the Midland Met's latest delay?
A report from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust said construction work had progressed well during the pandemic but that a "safe date to complete the move of clinical services" needed to be determined.
The report from Rachel Barlow, director of system transformation, said: "We had expected to have been in a position to be able to announce an opening date for full clinical services at the new Midland Metropolitan University Hospital.
"However, we have some further work to do with Balfour Beatty, our construction partner, to review their programme for practical completion of the building (ie handover of the completed building to the trust).
"That will inform our own timing for the necessary clinical commissioning, staff readiness and orientation plans so that we can have confidence in confirming a safe move date, with no compromise on quality of the building."
"It is becoming increasingly unlikely that we will be able to open the hospital in 2022."
Chief executive Richard Beeken said: “The new Midland Metropolitan University Hospital construction programme has progressed well during the pandemic, however, there have inevitably been some significant impacts over the past 18 months relating to supplies, workforce availability and replacement of part of the external facade due to changed fire regulations.
“Over the next two months we will continue to work closely with Balfour Beatty to review the work programme, with independent expert assessment, so that we can announce a 2023 opening date before the end of the year.”