Drainage problems blamed for hold up of £9m scheme

IT is now nearly five months since a turf cutting ceremony heralded the start of a £9 million project to improve health-care provision at Doddington Hospital and not one brick has been laid.

The ceremony held in October was trumpeted as the first milestone for the project, which would not only see the re-introduction of intermediate care beds at the hospital, but also state-of-the art affordable accommodation for older people.

The project, which is being created by housing and care provider Sanctuary Group in partnership with NHS Cambridgeshire, Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, was due to be completed by this summer.

However, work has been held up by draining problems prompting ardent campaigner Reg Wenn to question when Fenland will finally get the improved health-care services it has been promised.

“After several years of fighting for health services closer to home for the South Fenland people we now find there are more problems ahead, NHS Cambridgeshire tell us there are drainage problem holding up the building work at the hospital site. Do we deserve this after all the hoops we have been made to jump through? The public have not been told,” said Mr Wenn.

He blasted this latest set back saying the public should be told exactly what is going, especially after all the pro-longed consultation and arguments it has taken to get better provision at Doddington Hospital.

“The ‘Sod’ cutting took place on October 12 2010 but nothing else has happened since. We are now just six weeks away from April and not one brick has been laid. Having tried for some time to find out what the delay was I eventually found out there were “Teething Problems” with the drainage from NHS Cambridgeshire,” said Mr Wenn, who then made further enquiries and discovered there has been a problem with getting agreement over water, discharge of water/sewage.

He said: “It appears a drawn out negotiation has been ongoing to solve this issue. Unexpected engineering issues required very delicate investigation and agreement with all involved agencies prior to building commencing. I am informed these issues are close to a resolution which will enable building to commence. As soon as this is ratified FDC will let the community know the time-scale.”

He believes the project, which will see additional opening hours and increased medical services at the Minor Injuries Unit is now about a year behind schedule.

A joint statement from NHS Cambridgeshire and Fenland District Council said: “The start of building works on the extra care facility at Doddington Hospital being built by the Sanctuary Group, have been delayed due to the need to establish surface and foul water drainage solutions for the development.

“All agencies involved are having discussions to agree an appropriate solution for the treatment of both surface water and foul drainage, which will then enable building work to start.”