£400m plan to move Moorfields Eye Hospital to King’s Cross and boost research

Plans for the £400 million relocation of Moorfields Eye Hospital to King’s Cross were revealed today.

The hospital wants to move from its home of 120 years in City Road to a redeveloped two-acre site at St Pancras hospital to boost research and front-line care.

The new campus would integrate its clinical space with the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, currently in Bath Street, near the existing hospital.

Moorfields says a purpose-built new hospital would be cheaper than redeveloping its current site near Old Street station, because it is increasingly costly to maintain. 

It has appointed US firm Aecom and two teams of architects to design the new hospital, and has named the project Oriel.

Construction is due to begin at King’s Cross in 2021 and open five years later. Patients would continue to be treated in City Road until then.

The project has been under consideration for years but was boosted with £18 million from the Department for Health last month. It is the biggest of the 13 NHS projects in London. 

About £110 million has now been committed by the Government, with the remainder to be funded by selling the City Road site and philanthropic  donations secured by Moorfields Eye Charity. 

The construction project would cost £250 million, with the cost of land and fitting out the hospital and laboratories taking the total to £400 million.

Moorfields has been at the forefront of using artificial intelligence and stem cell therapies in healthcare and wants to enable scientists and doctors to work more closely together. It hopes this will increase the number of patients taking part in clinical trials.

The King’s Cross location would put Moorfields near the Francis Crick Institute and the main UCL campus in Bloomsbury, creating a “scientific hub”.

Moorfields’ chief executive David Probert said: “In terms of standing, Moorfields is number one in the world for research into ophthalmology and is the biggest eye hospital in Europe and the US. I’m very proud of the fact we educate people and do research and look after people — but the facilities we have to do that in are a bit cumbersome. We really need to invest in facilities for the next 25 to 50 years.

“Our work on AI and stem cells comes from having scientists and doctors together. I want to force the pace of that even more.”


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