Latest red-tape wrangle poses a unique problem

The latest bureaucratic tangle to beset the oft-delayed new hospital building for Market Harborough is such a muddle that the NHS has never seen its like before anywhere else in the country.

The issue now holding-up the £7.1million scheme for a revamped St Luke’s is a first for the entire NHS in the UK.

That rarity was admitted in a recent letter from NHS England regional director for the Midlands, Dr Paul Watson.

“The latest legal agreement cannot be signed off as there is no existing model or precedent for this kind of arrangement at a national level,” Dr Watson says in a letter.

Harborough residents were told by NHS bosses back in January that construction work for the long-promised new hospital building in Leicester Road would begin in April 2015 with its doors opening to patients by July 2016.

But there is now no new date for when work will start due to yet another paperwork obstacle.

The three partners involved in the scheme are project leaders NHS Property Services, the East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group, and NHS England.

They are now trying to hammer out a Deed of Indemnity to clarify exactly who will be responsible for which areas at the new St Luke’s building.

Health campaigner and district councillor Phil Knowles said: “Why is it that this difficulty of ‘no existing model or precedent’ was not identified sooner and solutions already in place?”

Louise Gosling, a spokeswoman for NHS Property Services, said: “We are aware of the contents of the letter from Dr Paul Watson.

“As it states, NHS Property Services is working corroboratively with the local commissioning body, NHS England and with the Department of Health, to move the situation forward as soon as possible.”