A POLITICIAN called delays in completing Ealing Hospital “one of the most fantastic disgraces in the history of the NHS” during a heated parliamentary debate in 1977.

The building of the new hospital was beset by problems that infuriated residents and politicians alike, against a backdrop of inflation and strikes.

William Molloy’s anger was mirrored by fellow MP Syd Bidwell, who called progress “abysmal and deserving of the closest scrutiny”.

The harangued Minister of Health said nothing more could be done to speed up completion.

The Government had ambitiously promised the new hospital by 1974 but it wouldn’t open for a further five years and was £4m over budget.

The developers remained tight-lipped during the ensuing furore as a succession of strikes hit building work.

Some of the problems descended into farce, including furniture being installed, removed and then reinstalled because the painters hadn’t been allowed in first.

Lifts were out-of-action meaning equipment had to be carried up the stairs - no joke in a 10-storey building – while a fire destroyed electrical cabling and even the weather was blamed for making site conditions unworkable

The hospital finally opened in 1979, though its impersonal concrete façade reflected the architecture of the time.

One critic described “a complex as forbidding as any Victorian institution”.