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The history of the new hospitals programme  

1993 – 1997: First proposals for a new hospital for east London

The need for a new hospital at The Royal London in Whitechapel was identified in 1993 as part of the Government’s response to the Tomlinson Review, Making London Better. As a result, planning began to create a new hospital at The Royal London, incorporating services at Barts Hospital

In summer 1995, the Department of Health approved the outline business case for these proposals.  Following a competition process, which started at the end of 1995, Health Management Group were appointed in October 1996 as the private-sector partner to design, build and run the new hospital at The Royal London.

1997 – 2002: Developing proposals for the current new hospitals programme

In June 1997, the new Secretary of State for Health, Labour’s Frank Dobson, commissioned a new review of London’s health services led by Sir Leslie Turnberg.  The Government’s response to the review, published in February 1998, agreed with the review’s recommendation that Barts Hospital should remain open as a cancer and cardiac centre of excellence.

With the Government’s agreement, Barts and The London then began to develop the current new hospitals programme to create a brand new hospital at The Royal London and a cancer and cardiac centre of excellence at Barts.

The outline business case for the new project, submitted to the Department of Health in November 1999, recommended that the new Royal London be procured using the private finance initiative, but that the Barts redevelopment should be paid for with public capital.  The London Regional Office of the Department of Health approved this proposal in 2000, but in 2001, the Government recommended that the two redevelopments be combined into one private finance initiative project.  This revised proposal was formally approved by the Government and the Department of Health in February 2002 and the tendering process to identify a new private-sector partner got underway. 

2002 – 2003: Identifying a private-sector partner

Two consortia – Skanska Innisfree John Laing and Renaissance – were approved to compete to become Barts and The London’s preferred bidder on the new hospitals programme.  Both completed a thorough and detailed bid process which culminated in the appointment of the Skanska Innisfree John Laing consortium by Barts and The London’s trust board in December 2003.

2004 – 2005: The town planning process

Planning applications were submitted to the City of London in March 2004 to redevelop Barts as a cancer and cardiac centre of excellence and to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in April 2004 to redevelop The Royal London as Britain’s biggest new hospital.  A statutory three-month consultation process followed for both hospitals, and planning permission for Barts was granted by the City of London in September 2004.

Also in 2004, two of Barts and The London’s three new hospitals advance projects – the refurbishment of the historic Kenton and Lucas and West Wings at Barts – were completed and opened to patients. 

The consultation process for The Royal London identified design improvements to the ground level of the new hospital in Whitechapel and a revised planning application was submitted to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in October 2004.  In February 2005, following further consultation, a further revised planning application was submitted, proposing changes to the appearance of the new hospital buildings.  In March 2005, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets granted planning permission for the new Royal London Hospital.

Later in 2005, construction work was completed on the state-of-the-art new Pathology and Pharmacy building at The Royal London, the third of Barts and The London’s new hospitals advance schemes.  Temporary workshops for the hospital’s mechanical, electrical and building staff were also completed, smoothing the way for the start of the main construction work on the new hospital itself.

December 2005 – March 2006: Reconsidering the proposals

In December 2005, the Department of Health asked Barts and The London to reconsider its new hospitals proposals, in particular the inclusion of the Barts element of the programme.  An independent review of cancer and cardiac provision, commissioned by the then North East London Strategic Health Authority on behalf of the Department of Health subsequently confirmed the need and scope of the Barts proposals.  In March 2006, Barts and The London reached a final agreement with the Department of Health on the new hospitals programme and the final green light was given, on condition that changes be made to reduce the annual cost of the scheme.

April 2006 – present day: Construction of new hospitals for east London and the City

Agreement with the Department of Health paved the way for Barts and The London to reach financial close with Skanska Innisfree John Laing in April 2006 – the process that ensures that a contract is in force and that the money is available to start construction.   Building work got underway at both Barts and The Royal London in May 2006.

Since then, progress has been dramatic at both sites.  The new Royal London Hospital is already beginning to transform the cityscape of east London, as the core shafts for its new buildings emerge from the ground. And at Barts, the upward construction of the new Cancer and Cardiac Centre of Excellence is also due to start in the next few weeks following the demolition of pre-existing buildings and the completion of piling work.