Campaigners furious at St Luke’s delays

Sir Edward Garnier ENGNNL00120130412124659
Sir Edward Garnier ENGNNL00120130412124659

An angry Sir Edward Garnier says the progress of the new St Luke’s Hospital in Market Harborough has been “blighted by incompetence”.

And the Harborough MP has now asked, in parliament, for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to “get a grip of the throats of the management of the scheme and make sure something is done”.

Sir Edwards words came after the town’s new hospital project was hit with further delays.

Work was supposed to start in March, according to the NHS themselves.

But an NHS spokesman said this week: “We are in the process of agreeing leases with prospective tenants and these are still being negotiated.

“Only when these have been completed and signed can the developer be brought on board and the work begin.

“Because of the need to agree all the details, this process is taking longer than expected and the start date for the work has been pushed back accordingly.

“We realise this will cause disappointment and we apologise for the delay.”

“‘Disappointment’?” fumed district councillor Phil Knowles, who has been campaigning for a new hospital for 28 years. “We’re not ‘disappointed’, we’re furious.

“The local NHS seem unable to meet even self- imposed deadlines which is frankly unbelievable.”

“Someone needs to take ownership of this mess and sort it out without further delays.”

NHS bosses said they were meeting a prospective GP partner, who could occupy 40 per cent of the new building, this week.

But Cllr Knowles said: “Questions need to be asked as to why this vital meeting has only happened now, nearly 12 weeks after building work should actually have started.”

Martin Royal, the NHS’s regional director is due to meet Sir Edward Garnier this week to discuss the detail of the project, and explain about the delays.

Cllr Knowles said he has received calls from senior NHS managers apologising for the delay and assuring him there is still 100 per cent backing for the building of the new £7.8 million hospital.

But he said: “The NHS has got to stop over-promising and under-delivering. When will we get a revised and fixed date for completion?”

And Sir Edward told parliament: “The delay (on the hospital) has now lasted for more or less the entire 23 years of my membership of the House.”

And he added: “The waste of taxpayers’ money has been compounded year on year ... It is a disgrace.”