The new Royal Berkshire Hospital buildings are ‘at risk of delay’ due to budget cuts, the Liberal Democrats have claimed. 

Building work to upgrade the Craven Road hospital, which serves people from Reading, Newbury, Henley, Wokingham, Berkshire and the surrounding area, was said to be starting between 2025 and 2030, according to hospital trust chiefs. 

There is also still the possibility that an entirely new hospital could be built at a new location. 

However, the Liberal Democrats claim that “savage cuts” of £700m to the health budget, revealed in last month’s autumn statement, put the development at risk.

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The party claims the Department for Health’s capital budget for next year will be affected and is “highly likely” to mean delays to infrastructure projects. 

Leader of Wokingham Borough Council, Cllr Clive Jones, said the area is in “desperate need” of the new facilities and suggested there is “no sign” of the promises being delivered. 

“NHS buildings are crumbling and increasingly unfit for patients and staff. People I speak to around here are really worried about what the conditions could be in the coming years. 

“These cuts to the hospital building budget could slow progress even more. Once again local people are being made to pay the price for the Conservative government’s economic mess. It’s just not fair.”   

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The Liberal Democrats claim the budget figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, meaning a real terms spending cut “potentially derailing the Government’s pledge to build 40 new hospitals” by 2030. 

Plans for upgrading the hospital are being undertaken as part of the New Hospitals Programme, where a new hospital can be defined as the development of a new wing at a new hospital. 

But Wokingham’s MP John Redwood says that health spending is “up 25 percent” compared with 2018-19 and he doesn’t know of “any filed business case and bid for capital that has been delayed for the Royal Berkshire [sic].” 

He added: “[…] the government is urging NHS managers countrywide to hire and retain more medical staff as there is budget for them. The government will press on with its 40 new hospital building projects.” 

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The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital was added to the New Hospitals programme in 2019. 

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said the Conservative Government has “failed patients and NHS staff in Reading [and] the wider communities of Wokingham” and residents will “never forget it” if the project isn’t delivered. 

“Our nation’s hospitals are in dire need of repair: there are too many horror stories of roofs leaking, crammed corridors and swelteringly hot intensive care wards. 

“They’ve been running health services into the ground for years. Now they look set to cut the funding needed […] The public deserve better.”  

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust were approached for comment.