Paddington Health Campus

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 22nd March 2005.

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Photo of John Randall John Randall Conservative, Uxbridge 11:30 am, 22nd March 2005

What recent meetings he has held to discuss the Paddington health campus; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Minister of State, Department of Health, Minister of State (Department of Health) (Health)

My right hon. Friend receives regular updates on major NHS projects, including the Paddington basin development. Officials are currently reviewing the outline business case submitted by the Paddington health campus team in December.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Conservative, Uxbridge

The Minister knows of my interest in this project. At the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust board meeting on 23 February, the acting chief executive gave a firm assurance that the necessary addendum to the December 2004 outline business case for the project would be submitted to the Department of Health by 15 March. Has the Minister received it yet? If not, will he tell us when he expects to do so, and why it has not arrived?

Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Minister of State, Department of Health, Minister of State (Department of Health) (Health)

No, I have not received it yet, but I hope to receive it from the trust shortly. I think that the issue to which the hon. Gentleman refers relates to a recent proposal from Westminster city council—a Conservative-controlled authority—to facilitate the development of Paddington by releasing some land that would provide a significantly improved value-for-money solution to the development. I hope that there is a way forward that will provide us with such a solution, and I look forward to receiving that communication from the trust as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

Will the Minister bear it in mind that, when this project was put out to consultation, the public were informed that the net cost would be £135 million? Last autumn, the Secretary of State admitted that the estimated cost had risen to £800 million. It is now £1.1 billion. At that rate, is not this the fastest escalating estimated cost in the history of the NHS? When will the Treasury take an interest in the project and get things under control?

Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Minister of State, Department of Health, Minister of State (Department of Health) (Health)

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Treasury has taken a close interest in this project right from the beginning, and rightly so. We should not lose sight of the important point that, if there is a value-for-money solution for the Paddington health campus, and if we can find that way forward, the campus will provide a significantly better service not only for the hon. Gentleman's constituents who might need to use its specialist services but for millions of patients across the south of England. I would have thought that he would lend his support to that improvement. His real problem today, however, is not my view on this matter, but that of Mr. Lansley, who, in May last year—