The construction of a new and improved hospital for Reading will be delayed until the 2030’s according to a new report which has reset the targets for a number of hospitals across the UK.

Royal Berkshire Hospital is one of eight hospitals in cohort four of the government’s new hospital programme to be delayed until after 2030, despite promises that all 40 would be completed on time.

The news was revealed in a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) which said that the government will fail to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030, as promised when it announced a £3.7bn funding package in 2020.

It said the new hospital schemes promised by the government in 2020 now face ‘substantial delays and will not be completed by 2030, inevitably with implications for patients and clinicians'.

Cohort four hospital, which includes the Royal Berkshire Trust will form part of the five-year rolling programme of planned hospital upgrades.

This report comes after health secretary Steve Barclay told MPs on Thursday, May 25 that the deadline of 2020 for a new hospital building in Reading was ‘stretching’.

An investigation by The Guardian at the beginning of 2023 also discovered that the future location of the new Royal Berkshire hospital was still in discussions and planning permission was yet to be sought.

This is due to intense discussions and years of consultations over the relocation or redevelopment of the new Berkshire hospital – either at the current site on London Road or building a brand new hospital elsewhere.

Its report said: “There could be substantial risks to value for money if this were to lead to hospitals that were too small to meet the needs of the communities they serve or if costs were to be inflated because so many hospitals were being built at once.”

It predicts that only 32 of the promised 40 hospitals will be built by the 2030 deadline, with Royal Berkshire one of those put on hold until after 2030.

Within the report, it has been stated that Royal Berkshire Hospital will receive at least a rebuild of emergency and elective blocks on the existing site which would cost between £501mn and £1bn, despite it being agreed that there would be multiple options for redevelopment or relocation.

A footnote within the report explained: The New Hospital Programme team is considering three options for the redevelopment of the Royal Berkshire Hospital. The cost stated in this figure is for the cheapest option, development of emergency and elective blocks on the existing site.

The report added: “It has been clear since the 2020 Spending Review that the schemes in cohorts 3 and 4 could not commence major capital works until after the start of the next Spending Review period in April 2025.

"The lack of an agreed programme scope and a clear indication of funding for the programme after 2024-25 limited the schemes’ ability to carry out other useful work in 2021 and 2022 because there was no clarity about the scale of new construction that NHP could afford at each site.”

A spokesperson from the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust said: "The redevelopment of the Royal Berkshire Hospital remains part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme.  The scheduling of our scheme is due to be confirmed next year after the New Hospital Programme Team complete an assessment exercise with all hospitals in our cohort. As this work continues, we are progressing our Outline Business Case at pace.  

"Construction to redevelop or rebuild the hospital will start before 2030 and will take a number of years depending on which option is selected. 

"Our priority is to deliver safe and outstanding care to our patients and we are committed to ensuring they continue to receive the best possible treatment as this work progresses.

"We will continue to work closely with our system partners and will involve and engage with our staff, patients, key stakeholders and local people to ensure that when the time comes we will deliver next generation care from the best possible healthcare facilities."