Decision delay over proposed new Royal Preston Hospital

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A decision on whether to build brand new hospitals for both Preston and Lancaster has been delayed.

NHS bosses in Lancashire and South Cumbria had been hoping for an announcement this month about whether they had secured government cash for the two schemes.

However, the nationwide new hospital programme - of which the two facilities form a part - has been held up by further costing work.

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As the Lancashire Post revealed in September last year, the region has opted to make an ambitious bid for entirely new buildings for each of Lancashire’s only cities.

At the time, Jerry Hawker, senior responsible officer for the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme, said that a decision would be needed “soon” if any approved new builds were to be completed in time to meet the government’s own timetable of them being open by 2030.

Speaking this week to the Post about the revised timetable, he said: “We had hoped that announcements would have been made in January 2023 regarding capital funding for the crucial investment in new hospital facilities for our local communities in Lancashire and South Cumbria, but the government has asked for further work to take place on the national New Hospital Programme.

“We are in regular communication with the national New Hospital Programme team and will share an update as soon as we hear more regarding funding and the impact on our proposals.

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“No final decisions have been made and we will continue to involve patients, local people, staff and wider stakeholders in the development of proposals for cutting-edge hospital facilities, offering the absolute best in modern healthcare,” Mr. Hawker added.

New buildings to replace the two ageing and crumbling current hospitals in Preston and Lancaster were selected as the local “preferred option” from a shortlist of possibilities drawn up following a government pledge in 2019 to replace or extensively refurbish 40 hospital sites across the country - a figure which has since increased to 48.

The other permutations for Central and North Lancashire – partial rebuilds of both the Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Lancaster Infirmary where they currently stand or one of either location getting a new hospital and the other city’s service being partially rebuilt – remain on the table as possible alternatives.

Should new hospitals be built in either or both cities, they would each be within a 10-mile radius of the existing facilities.

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Additional sites could still be added to an as yet unpublished list of possible plots on which to construct the hoped-for hospitals.

If the new-build options are approved in either Preston or Lancaster, full public consultations would be required - at which point, the suggested sites would be made public. However, the regional new hospitals programme has committed to continued engagement with the public even if partial rebuilds - which would not require official consultation - are agreed.

Updates on the programme can be found at