A NEW £3 million link bridge at Worcestershire Royal Hospital will not open until mid-January, a month later than planned.

The bridge, which would have alleviated some of the pressure faced during the winter months, will now not open throughout December as originally planned.

The trust says it is working towards January 16 as a completion date.

Paul Brennan, the trust's new chief operating officer and deputy chief executive, also admitted the contract - drawn up nationally - did not contain any incentive for the bridge to be built on time and the trust would not be compensated for the delay.

A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We have been notified by our contractors that they won’t be able to hand the bridge over to us on the originally agreed December date.

“We are now working towards a date of 16 January for the building work to be sufficiently advanced for us to begin using the bridge to transfer patients to the refurbished Aconbury wards."

Work on the new bridge - which will connect the main hospital building and the second floor of the refurbished Aconbury East building - began in April.

Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch County, expressed her frustration with the delay.

“To say I’m annoyed is an understatement," she said.

"I was reassured time and time again that this link-bridge would be completed and in place for the coming Winter.

“After finding out about this delay, I immediately got in touch with the trust as I knew this news would be of huge concern to my constituents. The Alex and local health services continue to be a top my priority for me.

“I’ve been assured by the Trust that this delay does not impact on their winter plans. I will of course continue to hold them to account and will keep in contact as they implement their plans for the coming Winter.

The link-bridge construction work is being paid for from the £29.6million Acute Services Review funding.

So far, the Trust has received £16million.

However, the Alex has not yet received any money from the £29.6million.

In total, £8million will be spent on the Alex which will pay for improvements to the elective care centre, endoscopy, children’s outpatients and an upgrade in theatres.

The MP added: “I’m once again calling on trust bosses to get on and submit their final business case to access the funding for the Alex. The money is sat there waiting to be used. As we’ve seen for the bids for the £16million, once submitted, the Department of Health and Social Care has approved the business cases within a matter of weeks."