Headlines: June 11th, 1998


The National Audit Office has warned health authorities and trusts to stick to new guidelines on major development projects if they’re not to fall into the same problems as a hugely over-spent project at Guy’s Hospital in London.

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Sir John Bourn told Parliament that the development, Thomas Guy House, was more than three years late on completion in April last year. And at a cost of more than a hundred and fifty million pounds, it was nearly seventy million over budget.

Sir John’s report does not apportion blame for the time and cost over-runs, currently the subject of litigation. But he does highlight inadequacies in the original costings and a failure to keep tabs on design changes.

He also points to the failure of the partnership funding package. This was a public and private sector project involving exchequer funds, the NHS, DES and numerous private and charitable donors, but it failed when prices rose and increasing public sector contributions could not be matched.

He has asked the NHS Executive to remind all trusts and authorities planning large projects to follow guidelines issued since the Guy’s project. These include ensuring clearly defined responsibilities, realistic costings backed up by risk analysis, secure full funding, realistic time scales and a design brief frozen as soon as possible.