NHS spent �1/4m running hospital that lay half empty in Barking

The NHS spent hundreds of thousands of pounds running a hospital that stayed half empty, figures reveal.

Barking Hospital ran up a �75,000 bill for cleaning, heating and electricity and splashed nearly �200,000 on security last year, a Freedom of Information request put in by the Post shows.

The Upney Lane hospital was completed in March but had only achieved a 50 per cent occupancy last month.

Its much-needed maternity unit, which will allow for 600 deliveries each year, is not expected to open its doors before mid-April.

The community hospital has suffered delays for two years and its budget rocketed by 50 per cent from �8million to �12m.

NHS Outer North East London was unable to say when the hospital would be fully open, saying it depended on negotiations with GPs.

A spokesman said: “Spend on security was �189,940, the site only being part occupied meant higher cost.

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“The construction was completed in March 2011, some five months later than expected.

“The take-up of occupancy was always expected to be phased as new services need to be tendered.

“We are currently in discussion with GPs and others to ensure that any further services provided at the hospital best meet the needs of the local community which it serves.”

The health trust said it expected to achieve an 88 per cent occupancy rate when its four-bed maternity unit is unveiled.

The urgent treatment centre and outpatients’ department should be open in mid-February, the Freedom of Information request revealed.

Mental and sexual health services are already running and an eye service run by Moorfields Hospital opened last month.

Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the government spending watchdog, the public accounts committee, criticised the NHS for wasting taxpayers’ money.

The MP for Barking said: “It’s an absolute disgrace that the hospital has been standing half empty for nearly a year.

“We need those services and we need them now, particularly with everything that’s going on at Queen’s Hospital.

“The managers in the NHS have failed to deliver the services on time and it’s costing us hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

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