The future of the £400m St Mary's Hospital redevelopment in Paddington, north-west London, was placed in doubt this week as it emerged that the project has been put on hold.
The delay is the latest setback to plans to build a hospital in the area. Last June, the £800m Paddington Health Campus was abandoned after a six-year struggle. The coup de grâce was given by the Board of the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust, which blamed an affordability gap and uncertainty over a land deal on the site.
Now, staff on the St Mary's in-house redevelopment team have been stood down as the scheme hangs in the balance.
The project is one of the UK's first "smart PFI" schemes - a form of the procurement route championed by the RIBA, whereby a design is agreed by the NHS trust and then bid for by PFI consortiums.
A spokesperson for the hospital said: "St Mary's NHS Trust has put on hold the development of a strategic outline case for a wide-scale redevelopment of the hospital. This is while the configuration of health services in north-west London and opportunities for closer working with neighbouring trusts are under review.
"Redevelopment team members will support other projects and a number will resume roles they previously held within the organisation."
The news comes as health experts in the industry predict a shake-up of planned hospitals in north-west London in the wake of the government's decision to cut acute hospital funding from £12bn to £7bn.
A source said: "There is significant over-provision of beds in the North West Strategic Health Authority. Some of the proposed schemes may not get the go-ahead. The next wave of schemes to be considered by the authority, such as Hillingdon, will be crucial."
St Mary’s has been put on hold while services in north-west London are under review
St Mary’s Hospital spokesperson
Despite the freeze, David Morley Architects says it is still drawing up a masterplan for the hospital and its surrounding area. This will take into consideration the proposed £700m Merchant Square scheme (see below left) as well as a new east entrance to Paddington Station.
But the trust denies that it has commissioned any masterplanning work outside the hospital site.
The spokesperson said: "It would be ridiculous to commission work outside of St Mary's Hospital. This is taxpayer's money and we will not waste it on work that has nothing to do with us."
A spokesperson for David Morley Architects said: "We are finalising the details of the appointment."
Troubled contractor Multiplex is thought to be considering the sale of its stake in the mixed-use Merchant Square scheme.