Trust puts the brakes on plans for health campus at Hinchingbrooke Hospital

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

Plans for a multi-million pound health campus at Hinchingbrooke Hospital - including a purpose-built facility for people with dementia - have been shelved.

Although the proposals were at an early stage, Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust had agreed a memorandum of understanding with Cambridgeshire police, which owns some of the adjoining land, to explore the feasibility of the project.

In September 2016, the former trust, now part of the North West Anglia NHS Trust, appointed Ryhurst as its long-term joint-venture partner for the 40-acre site.

It has since emerged that Ryhurst Ltd is a subsidiary company of the Rydon Group, which sub-contracted work on the cladding at Grenfell Tower, in London, and has come under scrutiny after a fire at the building led to the deaths of 79 people. There is no suggestion at this stage of any wrong-doing on the part of the Rydon Group.

A spokesman for the new trust has denied that Ryhurst’s link to the disaster had influenced its decision not to proceed with plans for the health campus. In a statement, the trust said: “Ryhurst Ltd was chosen as the preferred partner for the Strategic Estates Partnership at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in the summer of 2016. “However, no agreement was signed as the board of the hospital at the time did not have business case approval from our regulator, NHS Improvement. This remains the position today.”

At the hospital’s annual board meeting on July 13, which covered the accounting period from April 2016-April 2017, Caroline Walker, deputy chief executive and director of finance for North West Anglia NHS Trust, told the audience the plans were “on hold”.

After a question from a member of the audience, Mrs Walker said: “We were just not sure we were ready to go at the pace we thought. We don’t have approval from the regulator and we are not selling the land at the front of the hospital now for housing as there were too many planning constraints and conditions.”

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Huntingdonshire District Council had granted permission to Almaren Homes for 33 houses and 12 flats at the hospital site, in Hinchingbrooke Park Road, which was to form the first stage of the campus plan.