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The Cost Of Ministers' Indecision: £600,000 A Day

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The cost of ministers' indecision: £600,000 a day

Every morning 200 builders, architects and sub-contractors arrive at a gate within hoardings erected around a crumbling Victorian hospital in east London. They don hard hats and overalls and wait, smoking, drinking coffee and biding their time. In the architects' folders are plans, completed down to the electric sockets and the clocks on the walls, for the rebuilding of the Royal London hospital and its sister hospital, St Bartholomew's.

Every evening the workers leave none the wiser about when they will be able to start work on the £1.15bn project - the biggest private finance scheme ever undertaken by the NHS. As each hour of inactivity passes, the trust and developers say another £25,000 (£600,000 a day) is added to the overall cost.

"We don't know anything," said one builder yesterday. "We are just in the dark like everyone else."

The builders, contractors, developers and medical staff at the Royal London and Barts, where the Labour leader John Smith died nearly 12 years ago, have spent the past six weeks waiting for a decision by the health secretary, Patricia Hewitt and the Treasury, on whether the government is going to pull the plug on the long-awaited rebuild of the two teaching hospitals.

Yes Minister - The Compassionate Society - 1981

On his way to the Ministry he learns from his chauffeur that there is a new St. Edward's hospital in Northern London that is staffed with 500 administrators and ancillary workers, but has no doctors, nurses or patients. Jim Hacker is aghast and decides to ask Bernard to look into this.

At the Ministry Sir Humphrey is outraged that Jim Hacker agreed to a full independent inquiry. They both agree that this inquiry is not in their best interest and the inquiry should exonerate the department. Appointing Sir Maurice Williams as chairman of the inquiry should achieve this, since he is looking for a peerage. Bernard reports to the Minister that there are indeed no patients in St. Edward's hospital and that it has a staff of over 500 administrators and ancillary workers.

Sir Ian Whitchurch: "First of all, you have to sort out the smooth running of the hospital. Having patients around would be no help at all."

Sir Humphrey: "They just be in the way."

Jim Hacker: "You think it [st. Edward's hospital] is functioning now?"

Mrs. Rogers: "Minister, it is one of the best run hospitals in the country. It is up for the Florence Nightingale Award."

Jim Hacker: "And what is to praise that?"

Mrs. Rogers: "It is won by the most hygienic hospital in the area."


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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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