Section of controversial Liverpool hospital opens to COVID-19 patients

The proposed completed scheme

A section of the controversial Royal Liverpool Hospital will open today (May 4) to accept patients recovering from COVID-19.

The 646-bed replacement for the neighbouring Royal Liverpool University Hospital was originally due to open in 2017 at a cost of £335m.

But a series of costly setbacks and the collapse of construction giant Carillion in Jauary 2018 brought the project to a standstill.

Work finally resumed in late 2018, but a damning report by the National Audit Office in January this year declared that its opening would be put back to 2022 and the final cost of the project had risen to more than £1.1bn.

However, 25 mostly elderly patients will today transfer to a ‘step-down’ unit where they will regain their independence before discharge.

The unit and a 130-strong team of medical staff will be able to care for up to 65 patients.

Hospital chief executive Steve Warburton said: “Our construction partners and suppliers have worked quickly to create this fantastic facility, but equally our staff have demonstrated their ingenuity and innovation to plan the way in which they’ll give our patients the best possible care.

“It’s an amazing achievement to have created this unit in such a short time, and we’re very grateful to everyone involved.”

The specially-prepared unit, in what will become the Acute Medical Unit, will provide single-bed rooms for patients who will be transferred from the adjoining Royal Liverpool University Hospital or Aintree University Hospital.

Mr Warburton said the opening of this unit does not mean the whole hospital will open earlier than scheduled.