Sajid Javid tight-lipped on Doncaster bid for a new hospital but says it’s a ‘very good business plan’ during visit

The man in charge of deciding if Doncaster should get a new hospital has remained tight-lipped but said the bid is a ‘very good business plan’.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:10 pm

Health Secretary Sajid Javid spent the afternoon in Doncaster meeting with MPs and hospital bosses to visit a new inpatient and the site of a new diagnostic centre.

Mr Javid was alerted to the current outstanding maintenance work required which now stands at over £500 million, according to Conservative Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher.

The Health Secretary was also told that government investment in tackling the massive Covid-19 backlog is made harder by the current state of Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

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Sajid Javid on a visit to Doncaster Royal Infirmary alongside Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Richard Parker.

This was exasperated further by water leaks in April and September last year which affected the women’s and children’s services.

Back In April, 67 patients had to be moved and routine procedures were cancelled after a leak in the building came into contact with the electrical mains.

DRI chief executive Richard Parker said the incident in September was ‘isolated in minutes and repaired ‘within two hours’.

Mr Parker said: “The water leak reduced our capacity in our women’s and children’s facilities and that capacity had to be provided elsewhere in the hospital.

Sajid Javid on a visit to Doncaster Royal Infirmary alongside Doncaster Central MP Dame Rosie Winteron and Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Richard Parker. Credit: Harry Horton/ITV

“As you move into Winter, you need as much bed and inpatient capacity as you can and we were constrained because of the loss of accommodation.”

Mr Javid said: “It’s an opportunity to thank staff for their incredible work over the last two years but to meet patients and the community to hear from them as we tackle the Covid-19 backlog.

“As we do, there’s going to be record investment that’s both in the workforce and in new hospitals. We have received a well-thought through and structured business plan from health leaders coming together with the council and others.

“This isn’t the only proposal we’ve received and we’re working through those and we will be saying something shortly.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid when asked about Doncaster's bid for a new hospital remained tight-lipped but said it had submitted a 'very good business case'.

“The hospital is facing issues and one of the reasons I’m here is because I don’t want to read about them in London. I want to see for myself.”

MPs and leaders from both Doncaster Council and the NHS in the borough raised issues around Doncaster Royal Infirmary to the Prime Minister and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock in 2019.

But Mr Javid added: “There’s been extra investment – I’ve been to see one of the new inpatient wards – £12 million of new investment as well as at the Montagu site in Mexborough.

“There’s new investment going into a new diagnostic centre which will mean more opportunities for MRI, CT scans and X-rays so people get diagnosed quicker.”

David Purdue, chief eurse, Richard Parker and Sajid Javid inside the Trust’s newest inpatient ward.

“There is millions of pounds worth of investment going in, that’s just capital investment and we have more investment in the workforce with more doctors and nurses.

“I wish I could say right here and now around the outcome of the business plan that’s in front of us – I can say it’s a very good business plan but I’m not able to tell the results of that and it’s right and fair we take all the plans in and we’ll be saying more shortly.”

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton, who also met with Mr Javid on his visit to DRI, said: “I was pleased to see the extension to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, which replaces facilities damaged by a serious water leak.

“I hope that the Secretary of State’s visit has given him an appreciation that Doncaster is in need of a new hospital.

“Due to the extensive damage done to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital last year, Doncaster’s bid for a new hospital is now more urgent than ever. I hope that the Secretary of State will greenlight this project as soon as possible.”

THE CASE FOR A NEW HOSPITAL

An artist's impression on how the new Waterfront hospital could look if government approve the business case sent to Health Secretary Sajid Javid

The new site earmarked along the town’s Waterfront would be built to the ‘highest environmental standards’, be ready and equipped for future pandemics and provide state-of-the-art facilities for staff and patients.

The borough was handed a blow after Doncaster was snubbed in the first round of Government funding for new hospitals across the country last year.

But the state-of-the-art facility will not come cheap, estimates show the project could cost up to £934 million.

Another aspect of the site would be the construction of a higher education university campus which would house and train the next generation of NHS frontline workers likely in partnership with both Sheffield universities.

The site’s emergency department was built to deal with a peak of around 200 patients – daily we care for an average of 350 to 400 patients.

Hospital bosses have also said there is ‘extreme pressure’ on power supplies due to a system that is over 50 years old.

Planning permission also ‘makes it impossible’ to build a multi-storey car park to accommodate more than 3,000 health professionals and the site is land-locked, meaning that further expansion is no longer possible.

An artist's impression of where the new Waterfront hospital could be if government approve the business case sent to Health Secretary Sajid Javid
An artist's impression on how the new Waterfront hospital could look if government approve the business case sent to Health Secretary Sajid Javid