Planning blunders hit new NHS base

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 27 April 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1060

The new headquarters of the NHS in England, at Quarry House in Leeds, is now expected to achieve savings of just £15.6m ($23.4m) a year in office and staff costs, compared with the original estimated savings of £21.6m ($32.4m). Of this £15.6m, £13.3m ($19.95m) relates to the release of vacated space in London, which so far has proved difficult to sell or rent.

Planning blunders have meant that, in addition to the financial shortfall, the new headquarters is too small. As a result, office space has had to be rented in another building, says a report last week by parliament's spending watchdog, the National Audit Office. Quarry House, now three years old, provided 1850 m2 less of office space than had been specified. This was because the design made insufficient allowance for “circulation space” (corridors) and for plant and machinery.

After government planners discovered the mistake the builders, Norwest Holst, converted roof space into offices at their own expense. But a shortfall of 460 m2 still remained, and this, along with increased office requirements, meant that space has had to be rented in another building in Leeds at an annual rent of £705 600 ($1.1m).

Quarry House accommodates about 2100 staff of the NHS Executive, the Benefits Agency, and the Adjudication Service. Despite the shortcomings, the National Audit Office credits the departments concerned with examples of good practice. They succeeded in occupying Quarry House by the

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