Delays to Pevensey Unit

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Hospital bosses revealed last week that there was a “substantial difference” between the actual cost of the building and the money set aside by the trust to pay for it and the planned construction works due to start at the end of this month will not now go ahead.

The news came as a bitter blow to the families of sportsman Chris Lambird and Tuesday O’Hara who have raised thousands of pounds towards the unit as well as The Friends of Eastbourne Hospitals which is contributing money to the development.

Friends Peter Nash told the Herald, “Once again, we read that the Pevensey Ward project has been put on hold by the East Sussex Healthcare Trust.

“To say that we are disappointed is a big understatement and it is a blow for all who have campaigned and fund-raised for this desperately needed redevelopment. It is particularly so, since work commenced on the planning phase earlier this year.

“The trustees of the Friends of the Eastbourne Hospital met several times with builders and architects, retained by the trust, to agree how the funds held by the Friends could be used to enhance the project.

“Only a few weeks ago, as chairman of the Friends, I met with the trust’s representative and agreed to meet a small short fall between the anticipated cost and ESHT’s budgeted figure, with the balance going towards enhancements. Meetings were deemed urgent as a start date in October was given.

“Now, we discover that there is a significant gap between the cost anticipated by the trust and that required by the contractor. Yet again, our supporters have been misled into believing that the end was in sight only to have the finishing line vanish into the distance. They have been extremely patient, and whilst this must now be wearing very thin, I ask them to bear with us.

“The Friends remain committed to seeing this project through to a successful conclusion and we will continue with our efforts to do so. On behalf of the trustees of the Friends and, in particular, myself, I would like to apologise to all of our supporters for any part we have had, no matter how inadvertent, in misleading them.”

The hospital trust is remaining tight-lipped about the difference and will only say it is a substantial amount.

Reiterating the trust’s statement from last week, a spokesperson said, “Given the professional advice we received we had no reason to believe our budget for the project was unrealistic. We need to ensure value for money is obtained and therefore building work cannot commence as planned. We need to work with the contractors and the Quantity Surveyors to agree a build cost that is closer to our original budget.”