Questions remain over planned refurbishment of Charing Cross Hospital

Charing Cross Hospital is set to undergo a floor-by-floor refurbishment in full, but questions still remain over its timescale, funding and level of commitment from the Government.

Under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Charing Cross Hospital was set to be refurbished in full by 2030, with a funding commitment in the Government’s New Hospitals Program, launched in 2020.

However, earlier in May this year, the Government reformed the initiative, pushing back plans for Charing Cross Hospital beyond 2030, contrary to their prior commitment.

Andrew Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, was highly critical of this pushback.

He said: “These are really top-league hospitals, but they are working out of utterly substandard premises, and no developed country should be having hospitals in that sort of condition,”

Slaughter recalled meeting the head of the NHS, who told him the funding is not in the current spending cycle.

He said that the only funding currently available to Charing Cross Hospital is from small amounts of surplus within the current budget.

He also disputed Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands, after Hands described the news as “great news” for local residents. 

Hands sent out a parliamentary letter to his constituents in May earlier this year after the announcement, and a leaflet later in early December reiterating his claims.

In the leaflet where he reiterated his claims, he described securing “millions of pounds of investment.”

Slaughter said that the allocation for this financial year for Charing Cross Hospital was less than 3 million, while the original commitment was 4 billion for Imperial College Healthcare Trust, who run Charing Cross Hospital alongside several other hospitals, with 1 billion going to Charing Cross Hospital.

In a statement, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Charing Cross Hospital, said: “While there was a decision in May to push the main government funding for our schemes back beyond the original commitment of 2030 as other schemes were added to the programme and prioritised, we are still working to achieve the majority of our redevelopment, especially at St Mary’s Hospital, as near to the original timescale as possible.”

According to the National Audit Office, prior to May Charing Cross & Hammersmith Hospitals are in the final cohort, cohort 4.

32 other hospitals are taking a greater priority on a national level.

In a statement, Councillor Ben Coleman, H&F Cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care and Labour candidate to stand against Conservative MP Greg Hands at the next General Election, said: “It is deeply worrying that the government has broken its promise to refurbish Charing Cross Hospital floor by floor by 2030. 

“There is now no funding, no start date and no deadline.

“The hospital is coping heroically, but I know they are very worried about their ability to cope in the long term. 

“We’ll keep fighting for the government to think again and give funding to refurbish Charing Cross by 2030 as previously promised.”

Charing Cross Hospital was built in the 1970s and has been a lifeline to many members of the local community since.

It has faced various threats to its future, most significantly in 2012 in which a full demolition was proposed. 

The plan was to demolish the building, sell half of the land but keep a primary care unit, leaving significantly less beds and facilities for patients.

The proposal resulted in a seven year-long battle, in which the Hospital was ultimately saved from demolition in 2019.

Slaughter also accused Conservative figures of using Charing Cross Hospital for the purpose of filming promotional content for the Conservative Party.

He accused the former health secretary Steve Barclay of using a visit to Charing Cross Hospital in October to film political messages for Greg Hands and Andrew Dinsmore, Conservative candidate to challenge Andrew Slaughter for the Hammersmith parliamentary seat, without permission from the hospital.

Charing Cross Hospital has around 330-360 beds, the capacity of which was vital to the NHS Covid response within the area, and the hospital runs with almost all beds occupied most of the time.

According to Statistica, as of November 2023, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is in the leading 25 busiest hospital providers in England, coming in twelfth with 204,865 admissions. 

Imperial College Healthcare Trust is also the trust with the highest maintenance backlog in the country.

Data like this shows the strain on the current hospital, and emphasises the need for a full refurbishment.

With the current situation, alongside campaigns and pressures on the Government to go further than their current commitments and promises, it is certain that this row will deepen as we move closer to the upcoming General Election, and public health continues to remain of vital importance.

Featured Image Credit: Chmee2, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Related Articles