From the archives: Two decades since work started on the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital
- Credit: Mike Page/Archant Library
Two decades after building work started on the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) at Colney, we look back on what was heralded as the largest new hospital building programme in the history of the NHS.
Work began on the hospital on January 12, 1998 - at the time it was estimated it would cost £214m under a private finance deal approved by then Prime Minister Tony Blair from Japan.
The 809-bed state-of-the-art project replaced the old N&N and the West Norwich Hospital, and costs topped £229m.
Today the trust has 1,237 beds.
By 2037 the N&N looks set to pay £2.2bn to consortium Octagon who financed the scheme, under what former health minister Alan Milburn called 'the largest contract in the largest building programme in the history of the National Health Service'.
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There was relief when the deal was signed and sealed, after a number of years of uncertainty over whether the scheme would be given the green light,
Nearly four years later, the big move started and over six weeks some 4,500 boxes were shifted to the new site by removals firm Pickfords - one of their biggest jobs at the time.
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Moving the hospital out of the city centre was a controversial decision at the time, with worries about access amongst other concerns. The Keep our Hospital in Norwich campaign group even left flowers outside the old site on St Stephen's Road as a reminder of the opposition to the plans.
Now Green Party city councillor Denise Carlo was quoted in this newspaper at the time as part of the group. She said: 'There are a lot of people who are very upset about the decision to go ahead with the new hospital.'
But today the need to move is mostly recognised, as well as the benefits to being close-by to the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norwich Research Park.
The hospital opened in 2001 and was officially opened by the Queen in 2004.
In 2011 Ian Gibson, who was Norwich North MP at the time the hospital was built, said: 'The inconvenience of buses to it, and the parking arrangements still annoy people, but in general everybody I have met has been very happy with the service.'