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Health whitewash fear

Audit Office inquiry sought as bill for abandoned Paddington Health Campus reaches £14 million

THE SHADOW health secretary has joined calls for a National Audit Office inquiry into the failed £1 billion Paddington Health Campus.

Andrew Lansley is the third MP, after Nick Herd and John Randall, to demand a probe into the debacle.

It was revealed last week that the project has already cost £14 million, despite never getting past the planning phase.

Fears are growing among the project's critics that the North West Strategic Health Authority is trying to whitewash the fiasco.

At its latest meeting, in which the project was officially abandoned, board members called for an NHS review of the scheme. Members including SHA chief executive Gareth Goodier said there should be a review, but it should be 'forward looking and not attach any blame' The £1 billion health campus, planned for west London, would have involved moving the Harefield and Royal Brompton Hospitals to a site in Paddington, where St Mary's Hospital is already based.

But the scheme was written off by the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust in May due to a lack of land and concerns over viability.

Mr Goodier admitted the authority had considered five different plans for the scheme, with some of those comprising eight possible options.

Mr Lansley has written to auditor general Sir John Bourn saying: 'The public have a right to now how many millions of pounds have been wasted through bureaucratic wrangles on a project whose financial case was never made. Officials must now be brought before the Public Accounts Committee to justify the expense of their failed actions.

'Patients deserve no less than an independent inquiry to prevent such waste from ever happening again.' A spokesman for the NAO said the requests will now be considered before the auditor general makes a decision on a possible inquiry.

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