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Hospitals fret over PFI route

Two further hospital trusts look set to drop PFI for planned redevelopment projects valued at more than £200 million.

Last year Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust in Middlesex submitted an outline business case to local strategic health authority NHS London for approval of a PFI-funded overhaul of its hospital buildings.

The scheme had been valued at up to £271 million when early plans were developed in 2004, although this figure had fallen to around £130 million as the Government reduced the amount of money made available to trusts through PFI.

But this week a trust spokesman said it was now looking at splitting the job up into phases to be delivered on a traditional basis.

He added: “We are reviewing the scheme and looking at whether we may deliver it in a different way, with straight capital funding from the NHS.

“There is still an absolute commitment to rebuild the hospital because of the state it is in. If we go with a phased delivery the intention would be to start as quickly as possible.”

He said it remained possible that the PFI plan would go ahead. But other sources close to the deal described this as “unlikely in the extreme”.

A similar situation has developed in the South-west where Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has revisited its plans for a £57 million PFI-funded surgical centre.

It is now considering proposals to split the job into three phases to be procured traditionally.
Trust director of planning and facilities David Allwright said: “We took the PFI scheme through its outline business case but have now become a foundation trust. We are now looking at other ways of delivering the scheme.”

The trust is expected to decide on the way forward in the next two months and hopes to start enabling works by the end of the financial year.

Mersey Care NHS Trust and Heatherwood and Wexham Park NHS Trust in Berkshire are already looking at alternative ways of delivering PFI projects worth £370 million.

MORE INFO: Progress of major PFI healthcare schemes