One of my Council positions is Chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. In this role I have spent many hours over the past 5 years looking at, and talking about, the plans for a new hospital in Smethwick to replace the current City Hospital (on the Dudley Rd, pictured ) and Sandwell Hospital. The project was originally called Towards 2010, but it has slipped alarmingly over the years.
However it was good to hear yesterday that the Department of Health has now given the outline business case the green light. This means the Trust can now press ahead with the purchase of land on which to build the new hospital.
Although not in the Edgbaston constituency, City Hospital serves the north of the constituency and also the City Centre.
An invitation to companies to build the new hospital under a PFI initiative will be issued in late 2010/early 2011. The preferred bidder will be selected in 2012/13 with building work scheduled to start soon after. The new hospital is now planned to open in 2015/16.
Meanwhile scrutinising the consultations around proposed changes to maternity services at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust, and at Solihull and Heartlands Hospital (which is in the east of the city) are likely to form a major part of the Health O & S Committee’s work this winter.