Frequently asked questions
With our local health and social care partners, we’re working towards building a brand new state-of-the-art hospital at Whipps Cross as part of the Government’s flagship new hospital building programme.
The redevelopment of Whipps Cross offers a historic opportunity to replace an ageing and sprawling estate with a brand new hospital and to transform the wider Whipps Cross site with new homes, new green and public spaces, other health and care services and community facilities.
Below you'll find answers to some of the frequently asked questions.
When will the hospital be completed?
The planning applications for the new hospital at Whipps Cross were approved by the Waltham Forest Council planning committee on 24 November. We submitted two outline planning applications: one application for the hospital and car park, and another application for the wider site. The ‘Stage 2’ approval from the Mayor of London was granted on 14 March 2022.
We are working closely with the New Hospitals Programme to finalise our Outline Business Case. Subject to planning and business case approvals, we anticipate hospital construction to commence in 2023/24 with completion by 2028.
The new Whipps Cross Hospital is one of eight ‘pathfinders’ that are part of the Government’s commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 - the biggest hospital building programme in a generation backed by an initial £3.7 billion. This commitment forms part of the wider NHS Health Infrastructure Plan.The New Hospitals Programme is a Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement joint team, working with local trusts to design and deliver their hospitals.
How much will the new hospital cost?
The estimated cost of the new hospital will be informed by the detailed design work that underpins the development of the Outline Business Case. The overall capital requirement from Government will be informed by the detailed design work and then subject to approval by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Treasury, as part of the Government’s approval process for the Outline Business Case.
How much of the site will be sold?
The current hospital site has developed over a 100 year period and sprawls across 18 hectares (equivalent to around 25 football pitches). The new hospital will be a similar size to the previous hospital but with more clinical space to treat patients and will take up significantly less land on the site.
In several years time, once the new hospital is built and services have relocated into it, the land not required for the new hospital - or safeguarded for future NHS needs - will be released for redevelopment. This provides the opportunity to transform the wider site with: up to 1,500 new homes (in line with Waltham Forest’s Council’s Local Plan), new green and public spaces, better transport and access, other new health and care services and community facilities.
How will the new development prevent issues like those during the recent flooding?
The major flooding incident at Whipps Cross in July 2021 once again brought home that our ageing and sprawling estate makes the hospital particularly vulnerable to such events.
The fact that it was a newer part of the hospital most affected by the floods reinforces the case for building a new, modern, hospital on the site as soon as possible.
Our flood prevention plans for the new hospital include incorporating green roofs and attenuation tanks (which collect and store excess water), to reduce the “run off” rate of surface water into the existing drainage system to reduce peaks - equivalent to “green field conditions”.
There will also be a critical drainage area set aside to provide flood attenuation tanks and natural ponds to further improve the impact of flooding. The drainage will be designed to promote increased water use efficiency, improved water quality, and enhanced biodiversity, urban greening, amenity and recreation.
However, these plans can only be delivered in full through the redevelopment of the hospital and the wider site.
How many beds will the new Whipps Cross have?
The number of beds in a hospital fluctuates throughout the year. The bed base of the current hospital is between 570 and 580. The number of beds for the new hospital has not been finalised but our flexible approach to design means we could physically accommodate 600 beds. This is why we are confident that we can provide at least as many beds in the new hospital as at present, should that prove necessary.
We will keep reviewing this during the planning and construction phases to make sure that when the new hospital opens - it meets local demand for healthcare.
The new hospital will have over a third more clinical space than it does today. It will have nearly 50% more day case beds and nearly double the amount of CT and MRI scanners. This will transform our ability to diagnose and treat swiftly and reduce unnecessary stays in hospital. For those that do stay, many more will benefit from improved privacy and dignity within single rooms, with more than 70% single rooms in the new hospital compared to around 17% today.
We’re working with primary care and community services partners to improve services for patients, aiming to:
- Help more people avoid the need to attend hospital in the first place
- Reduce the need for admissions for those that do attend
- Reduce the time those admitted need to spend in a hospital bed
Overall, we expect this to mean fewer days spent in hospital beds each year at the new Whipps Cross hospital than is the case today. For this reason we expect the new hospital will need fewer overnight beds than today, even after taking into account future population growth. However, the flexibility of our hospital design means we can accommodate at least as many beds in the new hospital as at present should that prove necessary.
Early next year, we will begin to develop and design a transparent annual reporting process which will chart the progress we are making in service transformation, and inform a continual evaluation of our capacity assumptions (including beds) for the new hospital.
How will specialist palliative and end of life care be delivered in the new hospital?
The new hospital will continue to provide specialist palliative and end of life care for those that require hospital care.
The hospital will continue to provide high quality specialist palliative and end-of-life care, in both the Margaret Centre and across other inpatient wards, until the new hospital is built.
Similarly to today, multi-disciplinary, multi-professional teams will continue to provide this high-quality specialist palliative and end-of-life care to patients across the whole hospital. But we are still planning how we will organise and configure these services, as with many of the inpatient services planned for the new hospital.
We will finalise our plans as part of the next stage of design for the new hospital and we will continue to involve staff, patient and public representatives in this process.
North East London CCG, in partnership with Bart’s Health, is leading work with St Joseph’s Hospice, service users and others to develop a non-hospital, specialist palliative and end-of-life care offer for people in the Whipps Cross catchment area. The review will consider how the new service model could be delivered from the Margaret Centre, and whether the unit itself would remain on the Whipps Cross site or be re-provided elsewhere in Waltham Forest.
A strategy and delivery plan will be published by September 2022.
Will there be enough car parking spaces?
Yes. We're also planning for the site to be easier to get to using many different transport options.
In line with local and regional policy we are aiming to reduce reliance on car use to the hospital to support a significant reduction in car parking spaces at the hospital over several years.
To do this, we are developing an active travel plan to encourage our staff to use alternative transport options - including walking, cycling and public transport - to support a gradual reduction in car use and a consequent reduction in the overall demand for car parking spaces.
We are also discussing with local partners, including Transport for London, the opportunities for improving public transport, particularly bus connections.
Our car parks will be fully accessible for disabled drivers and their passengers and have electric charging points. There will also be dedicated drop off/pick up facilities making access simpler, safer, and as practical as possible.