Work on a new £27 million hospital to serve large swathes of rural Shropshire has been delayed by at least four months due to a legislative mix-up, it has been revealed.
Those behind the new Ludlow Hospital had hoped to see work start on the site on Ludlow Eco Park in September.
But due, to a change of wording in a clause of the Health Act by politicians at Westminster last summer, further negotiations will be held to reach a final agreement on funding for the scheme before work can start.
Ludlow MP Philip Dunne is due to meet with junior health minister Dr Dan Poulter next week in a bid to find a solution. Supporters of the hospital project are hopeful work will start in the near future and believe the hospital will be open by the end of 2014.
Under the terms of the Health Act, central government has always agreed to underwrite major health projects in the event of problems with funding. But in the summer the wording of the clause in the Act was changed to say the Department of Health may underwrite such projects – leading to the funders of Ludlow’s new hospital asking for fresh assurances before agreeing to pay for the project.
Mr Dunne said: There has clearly been a delay and, as chairman of the town’s health forum I have offered to do what I can to unblock any jam in the system.”
Peter Corfield, chairman of the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital, said: “We had hoped the hospital would be ready by the spring of 2014 but it is likely to be nearer the end of the year now.”