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.

“While this is disappointing, it does not impact on any of the other actions we are taking across the health and care system to prepare for winter.”

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.

The money for the bridge, provided by the Department of Health, was announced by outgoing chef executive Michelle McKay in January and is part of a £29.6 million pot provided by the Government to pay for the refurbishment of the Aconbury East ward - which would open up 40 more beds.