Bart's £460m rebuilding project 'unworkable'

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The biggest hospital rebuilding scheme proposed in Britain has been condemned as "clinically unworkable and unrealistic" by the consultants who would have to work in it.

The biggest hospital rebuilding scheme proposed in Britain has been condemned as "clinically unworkable and unrealistic" by the consultants who would have to work in it.

In a sign of the pressures facing the National Health Service, the medical council representing the consultants at St Bartholomew's Hospital and the London Hospital NHS trust has rejected a £460m plan to redevelop the two hospitals into "modern, state-of-the-art" institutions as inadequate to meet the needs of the population they are supposed to serve.

The consultants say the 1,150 beds planned for the two sites - 800 at the London in Whitechapel and 350 at Bart's in Smithfield - must be increased by 15 to 20 per cent if the hospitals are not be overwhelmed by demand.

They say that the trust is already struggling with unacceptable waiting lists and has been over-run by emergency patients who fill the beds and prevent routine operations going ahead, and that the plans for the new hospitals do not allow for any increase in capacity and are therefore "clinically unsustainable".

The consultants' concerns are set out in a letter sent to the chairman of the trust, Brian Gilmore, last week. The letter, signed by Dr John Cunningham, the chairman of the council, warned: "In some areas, services will decline to the point where they will lose critical mass and collapse."

Yesterday the trust approved the outline business case for the redevelopment of both hospitals, despite the consultants' concerns.

In a statement Ray Pett, the chief executive of the trust, appeared tacitly to acknowledge that the £460m investment was less than required. He said: "The medical council of the trust feels strongly that unless concerns they have raised are recognised and dealt with, the plans put forward will not provide the best possible healthcare service for East London.

"The trust board recognises these concerns, and indeed shares many of them, but the outline business case needs to strike a balance between these concerns and realistic financial expectations."

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