ANY future move of the Royal Berkshire Hospital site has been called into question after it was found that planning permission is yet to be sought.

Councillors say local people have been 'betrayed' claiming 'little progress' has been made since the hospital was included in former prime minister Boris Johnson's promise for 40 new UK hospitals. 

The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has been assessing the future of the hospital site in Craven Road, Reading, since it was incorporated into the government’s New Hospital Programme in 2020.

The trust has been exploring the possibility of either redeveloping the current site, moving to a new location either in South Reading or Shinfield, or a mixture of the two.

Although Berkshire MPs and officials from the trust agree that a 'new hospital is vital for the health and care of population', a decision on how that looks for the Royal Berks is yet to be decided.

It come after a recent investigation undertaken by the Guardian newspaper, in which a series of parliamentary questions and freedom of information requests found that only a quarter of the proposed 40 hospitals have obtained full planning permission.

As a result, one NHS trust boss told the newspaper: “There’s a 0 per cent chance there’s going to be 40 new hospitals by 2030….We’ll be moderately lucky to have eight.” 

However, this has been refuted by the Trust as a spokesperson said it is still 'working to achieve the best new hospital for our patients and public by 2030'.

Wokingham Liberal Democrat candidate Clive Jones has written to the Secretary of State for Health demanding answers regarding their ‘betrayal’ and urgently called for funding.

Cllr Jones said:  "Ambulance waiting times are soaring to dangerous levels and it feels impossible to see a local GP face-to-face. Our health services are crumbling and the Government simply doesn't seem to care. 

“We were promised a new hospital but there is no sign of it.

"People in Wokingham and the wider Reading area deserve quality healthcare but we are putting up with an ageing hospital that either needs urgent funding or to be replaced altogether. 

“This situation is deeply concerning. It feels like we are being taken for granted yet again, I’ve written to the Government to demand answers."

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said: "The Government needs to stump up the cash to keep ageing hospitals running and ensure patients are treated in safe environments."

In October 2022, The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, which governs the hospital, held a meeting with a number of Berkshire MPs to discuss its proposed redevelopment.

At the meeting, Labour MP for Reading East Matthew Rodda said: “I am calling for more investment in the NHS and improving the Royal Berks is an important part of this.

“There is a strong case for rebuilding the hospital, either on the existing site or in a new one and I am working with other local MPs to urge the Department of Health to increase spending on the RBH.

“I also believe residents, patients and NHS staff should be involved in discussing the hospital’s future and, that services should be accessible.”

The Trust's chief executive Steve McManus said: “A new hospital for Reading and Berkshire is vital for the health and care needs of the local population but these needs can’t be met without significant investment over the next decade.

“We are delighted that our MPs are so positive about their visit and supportive of our ambition to modernise our hospital and services.”

In a hopeful move forward, the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust launched a public consultation to help determine the future location of the Royal Berkshire Hospital and are holding an engagement event on Friday 3 March at 10am at Reading Town Hall .

A spokesperson from Royal Berkshire Hospital added: "The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is one of 40 schemes that are part of the New Hospital Programme. The Government's commitment is for all schemes to be delivered by 2030. Current estimates of a completion date varies, depending on which of our options are approved and how they will be built.

"The Trust is working through the options for the redevelopment or relocation as part of the business case process.

"The Trust do not have planning permission as we have not yet had confirmation of our funding allocation to enable a decision on where we can build but we are gathering information about potential sites and the condition of our current site, to inform this decision.  

"As part of the process the Trust are engaging widely with the staff, public and community organisations across Berkshire for feedback.

"We are working closely with the New Hospital Programme Team to achieve the best new hospital for our patients and public by 2030."

The process of planning for a new hospital in Reading has been undertaken since October 2020 as part of the Building Berkshire Together programme.

The Hospital Programme, was at the heart of Boris Johnson’s 2019 Manifesto, with ministers claiming that the 40 new hospitals would reach completion by 2030.