Kettering General Hospital: Redevelopment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:53 pm on 22 March 2024.

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Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women) 2:53, 22 March 2024

I absolutely take my hon. Friend’s point, particularly given the issue he raised about RAAC being discovered on the maternity and gynae floors. I will take that point to the Hospitals Minister in the other place and the team, and I will put in his request to meet the Minister to discuss this. I understand the frustration that comes when some work has been done already, and that it takes time for the trust, which urgently wants to get on and construct the new hospital. I will certainly take that away after the debate.

I reassure my hon. Friend, his constituents, the patients who use Kettering General Hospital and the staff who work there that the new hospital will be in place as soon as possible and will meet the 2030 deadline. I recognise the urgency. As part of the works, the energy centre is crucial to the development of the wider hospital scheme. We heard very eloquently from my hon. Friend this afternoon—he has also explained this to me and other Ministers—that this is not just a crucial part of the new hospital plans, but that the current system was only ever meant to be a temporary measure; he described how fragile it is, so I recognise the urgency of starting work on the new energy centre.

My hon. Friend will know that early works have commenced on site. Ground clearance and site surveys are under way to prepare for the cabling that is needed to provide the energy centre’s power once it is completed. Hoardings will shortly go up to allow more extensive works to start on site. I can reassure my hon. Friend that his constituents will start to see progress on that very shortly. The trust has made progress, recently reaching a new connection agreement with National Grid and agreeing the reserve capacity needed for the energy centre. That is a vital step in securing the new hospital’s energy requirements for the future and in dealing with the imminent problem of the temporary energy facility that is keeping the hospital going.

The final piece of the jigsaw to get the construction of the energy centre under way is the full business case that the trust needs to submit. I can reassure my hon. Friend that that we are working with the new hospital programme team on this. We expect the case to be submitted in June. The Hospitals Minister has committed that, subject to it meeting the cost threshold and certain criteria, we can estimate a turnaround time for approval of two weeks, so hopefully we will start to see the construction of the energy centre this summer. I hope that gives my hon. Friend and his constituents reassurance.