NHS: St Mary’s Hospital is not closing

NHS bosses have denied St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington is at risk of closure after reports it would be sold off for development to plug a multi-million hole in finances.

National newspaper reports on Monday suggested that Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust was considering a proposal to shut the iconic hospital so that 3,000 flats could be built on the site.

The trust is currently �100million in debt and is in the process of putting in place major cuts to reduce its deficit.

But it has strongly denied that St Mary’s will be sold to raise funds.

A spokeswoman said: “Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust would like to categorically deny that we have any plans to close St Mary’s Hospital or any of our hospital sites.

“We have not engaged any firms of architects to look at our estate with a view to converting it into residential properties.

“We would like to reassure all patients and staff that providing the highest quality clinical care across all our sites remains our absolute priority.”

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St Mary’s is one of five hospitals run by Imperial, which also oversees Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.

Reports suggested that six architect firms had been asked to provide a quote for turning St Mary’s into flats to help Imperial make a decision on the future of the hospital.

Its prime Paddington Basin location would prove extremely popular with developers as much of the surrounding area has recently undergone development.

But the hospital denied the claim and said a tender process to appoint architect and engineer firms was launched in December 2010 “to look at the development potential of our estate across all of our sites”.

However, no appointments were made as “this work has been superseded by the long-term strategy review we are undertaking”.

The spokeswoman said that �70million will be saved this financial year through a “cost reduction programme”.

She added: “Like many acute trusts in London, Imperial College Healthcare is facing significant financial challenges linked to reduced income and the increased move of patient care from hospital settings into the community.”

Princes William and Harry were both born at St Mary’s as was their cousin Zara Phillips and musician Elvis Costello.

The hospital was also the site where Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.