Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital could be relocated to a site close to Thames Valley Science Park (TVSP) under options being considered by NHS England.

Green Park is also under consideration as hospital bosses try to solve problems of the ageing buildings, the confined site and its travel and parking restrictions.

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, one of 48 in the Government’s new hospitals programme, has produced a strategic outline case which has reduced six initial options for what to do about the Royal Berks, to three. Those are now being considered by the NHS as part of an outline business case (OBC) to improve provision.

The three options include:

  • Development of an emergency care block, an elective centre for planned hospital care, a new women’s and children’s facility and a potential medical school.
  • Wholesale redevelopment of the current site for a new hospital, while maintaining the London Road frontage.
  • Full relocation.

In its presentation to Reading Borough Council’s health and wellbeing board on October 8, the trust said the hospital, which first opened in 1839, suffers from:

  • A £200 million backlog of required maintenance work
  • A confined location
  • Transport and travel problems

Alison Foster, programme director for the trust, told the meeting the trust wants to achieve net zero carbon but that would be difficult in the case of redevelopment of the current site. She said sites at both TVSP and Green Park are among the relocation options.

In a statement the trust told Thames Tap: “Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust have spent the past year developing a strategic outline case that considers the various options for the future redevelopment of our hospital and, following in-depth engagement with our stakeholders, we have now completed this document and have submitted it to NHS England.

“The next stage involves the drafting of an outline business case (OBC) which seeks to determine the preferred option and explains why it makes economic sense. There are a range of options including redevelopment and relocation and we are working with our staff, public and other stakeholders to ensure what is designed is fit for the future.”

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC), in its promotion of its Local Plan update, currently going through consultation, stated: “New jobs in a range of sectors would be created in the area near the Thames Valley Science and Innovation Park, which might accommodate a full or partial relocation of the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, subject to funding decisions.”

WBC would not comment to Thames Tap. However, Reading Borough Council made clear it wants to keep the hospital in Reading.

Leader of the council Cllr Jason Brock told us: “The Royal Berkshire Hospital presented their Strategic Outline Case at the last meeting of Reading’s health and wellbeing board and outlined all of the options they need to consider as per requirements set by HM Treasury. Only one of the myriad possibilities involves the hospital’s relocation, and the cost of such an option makes it unlikely.

“The council supports the hospital exploring all possibilities at this stage and we certainly know that the hospital requires investment from Government to secure its future for the residents of Reading and beyond.

“The borough is clearly the most sensible location for the Royal Berks, although we do not currently endorse any particular option and reserve judgment until the process progresses.”

The OBC is expected to take between 12 and 18 months with a likely start to redevelopment in 2025/26.

The RBH from 1839 to the future by Joe Wise, the hospital’s former PR manager.

Image: Andrew Smith / Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading / CC BY-SA 2.0

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