The ‘West End Extra’ reports;
“A MASSIVE sale of NHS buildings at St Mary’s Hospital has been put before boardroom chiefs this week.
The sale at the main site in Paddington and the Western Eye Hospital in Marylebone is expected to raise £150million.
A report to the board of Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which runs St Mary’s, outlined their “estate solutions”. It details a shock plan to finance a major redevelopment through the sale of hospital blocks on the private market.
The major changes – which have only come to light this week – are part of a shake-up of healthcare in north west London that will see the A&E at Charing Cross Hospital close.
Tens of thousands of extra patients will be sent to St Mary’s, which will become a specialised centre for emergency care.
Campaigners this week questioned how the Paddington hospital would cope with this massive surge in demand at a time that it was selling off huge chunks of its site.
John Lister, from the NHS campaign group London Health Emergency, said: “How are they going to be able to take the additional patients that are inevitably going to come when they close Charing Cross? Where are they supposed to go?”
A spokeswoman for Imperial said some buildings at St Mary’s were in need of modernisation and said they would be able to create “more efficient purpose-built buildings that require a smaller area of land”.
Under the proposals – called Shaping a Healthier Future – services at the Western Eye Hospital will transfer to the main Paddington site, which would leave the space in Marylebone Road sitting empty.
The future of healthcare in Westminster has not yet been decided by the hospital’s board and will have to be signed-off by the secretary of state.
Mr Lister said: “St Mary’s is one of the places that is supposed to be receiving additional patients so we would be concerned that they are selling this land, something that would potentially make it more difficult to expand services. It places a huge question mark over what the real plans are.”
Imperial has said it is too early to say exactly which buildings would be sold, but the £150million figure dwarfs recent proposals to sell hospital land elsewhere in London.
Earlier this year a fundraising plan by bosses of the Whittington Hospital, Archway, aimed to raise £17million through the sale of around a third of its NHS site.
The entire Middlesex Hospital, Fitzrovia, was sold for £180million to developers before the new University College Hospital was built in 2005.
The report was put before the NHS trust board on Wednesday by the chief financial officer Bill Shields. Alongside the proposals for the future of the hospital services it said: “All these solutions are being developed within a broad capital envelope of £200m. It is provisionally calculated that this would allow a £350m project at St Mary’s (net £200m after £150m land receipts).”
Last month Westminster North MP Karen Buck raised concerns over the plans after she was warned by senior officials that all non-emergency surgery and out-patient care could be “relocated” away from the Paddington hospital. She said details of the plans had not been made clear during a public consultation in 2012 and called for increased “openness and transparency about the decision-making process” in the NHS.
A spokeswoman for the NHS trust told the West End Extra last night (Thursday): “In addition to the Shaping a Healthier Future proposals, the trust is working on a range of options, led by clinicians, which include the potential redevelopment of the older parts of our estate, including at St Mary’s Hospital, which are most in need of modernisation. This includes a major investment in St Mary’s Hospital. The aim of this is to bring all our wards and clinics up to the standards of world class services like our major trauma centre, which has contributed to the national 20 per cent increase in survival rates for patients who have suffered life-threatening trauma.”