A £5 million plan to expand the much-used radiotherapy unit at Peterborough City Hospital is a year behind schedule, it has been confirmed.
A legal wrangle has been blamed for the 12 months’ delay to develop the Bretton hospital’s radiotherapy unit.
This issue needs to be urgently resolved.Stewart Jackson MP
But it means that medical staff are having to work longer hours to meet the demand for the vital cancer treatment.
And agency staff are also being hired to cope with the workload at an extra cost to the already cash-strapped trust.
However, trust officials say they can not calculate the extra cost.
The plans involve building a third and fourth bunker on site and the installation of a third linear accelerator machine.
A grant for the work was approved by the Department of Health in October 2013.
It had been hoped the construction work would be completed this summer.
A spokeswoman for the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “There has been a delay of approximately 12 months on the project, which has been disappointing but it hasn’t affected the overall objective of the project.”
She said: “The contractors have been concentrating their efforts on the enabling work which will allow for the main construction work to begin in the summer.
“The enabling works have already been completed, however it has taken longer than anticipated in finalising the contractual agreement between the trust and our PFI partners, Peterborough (Progress Health) causing a delay to the initiation of the main construction.
“The department is expanding to meet the increased demands of patients requiring radiotherapy treatment, and to improve patient experience by preventing the need for our local patients having to travel to neighbouring hospitals.
“We currently see between 100 and 150 patients requiring radiotherapy each month.
“Due to the delay the department is currently very busy but the team is dedicated and committed and has flexed working hours to meet the needs of our patients.
“Normal opening hours for the unit are 8am to 7pm on one of the linear accelerator machines and 9am to 1pm on the second. We are now working 8am to 8pm and 8am to 2pm respectively.
“We have also employed agency staff to cover these hours at an additional cost to the trust until we can employ new staff on a permanent basis.
She added: “It’s not possible to quantify it as agency staff are all paid different rates. The income additional patients create outweighs the cost of paying for additional staff.”
The spokeswoman said the legal wrangle was not connected to the fire safety issues that are currently being investigated. The trust has withheld £1.4 million from the payment of £3,847,878 due to Progress Health over the fire matter.
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “This issue needs to be urgently resolved. Patient care and clinical priority must be top of the list of concerns and I will be making that clear to the trust management. It’s another example of the disastrous PFI legacy and the contract signed in 2007.”