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Carillion hospital cladding needs ‘urgent investigation’

A union has called for an urgent investigation after it was revealed that cladding installed by Carillion on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital might not meet safety standards.

Board papers for the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust’s September meeting stated that three different types of cladding had been used on the hospital in Sandwell in the West Midlands.

The trust said one type was expected to fail fire-safety tests, a second was expected to probably fail and a third could possibly pass.

The Unite union called for an urgent investigation into why it had taken so long for the cladding problems to emerge.

Unite regional officer Su Lowe said: “Questions need to be raised about why the cladding wasn’t checked earlier – today marks 600 days since Carillion’s collapse.

“By now, we should have had our desperately needed hospital fully operational, but instead we are still discovering serious flaws with the project.”

Testing of the cladding is set to take place next month to confirm its status.

Carillion’s other unfinished hospital, the Royal Liverpool, was also fitted with non-compliant cladding.

The latest board papers from the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust also revealed it was still struggling to get the government to sign off funds to get construction on the Midland Met underway again.

Balfour Beatty won the contract to complete the hospital at a cost of £267m in April, but trust chief executive Toby Lewis has warned the contractor could walk away if the delay in sign-off goes on.

“[Balfour Beatty] may decide that they have had enough or that the price agreed to was no longer applicable,” Mr Lewis said.

Balfour Beatty and the trust are at odds on when the hospital will be completed, with the trust wanting a December 2021 practical completion and the contractor working towards April 2022.

Mr Lewis said he was looking to try to bring the date forward to 14 February 2022.

The trust wants the new hospital to be open and running in time for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which start on 27 July 2022.

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