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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

To be or not to be?

18th August 2006

27042006_empty_corridor.jpgMinisters gave the green light to £1.5bn of PFI schemes, whilst the BBC reports hospital closures and downgrades.

Six schemes involving expanding A&E units, building a cancer centre and expanding community services have been given the go ahead to be built by 2010. However, released on the same day the BBC reports that at least ten hospitals in England could be facing closure or a downgraded role.

The government evaluated the PFI process earlier in the year amid criticism it was not providing value for money, but Health Minister Andy Burnham said he was confident the new projects would prove financially sound.

The new hospital buildings receiving the go-ahead are:

- University Hospital North Staffordshire NHS Trust - £272 million scheme to build a new community hospital and cancer centre
- Tameside and Glossop Acute Services NHS Trust - £68 million investment in three day-case operating theatres, new surgical wards and a 30 place day hospital for elderly mental health patients
- Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust - £112 million new hospital with more single rooms, an enhanced A&E and three new operating theatres
- Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust - £140 million for the complete re-development of the Manor Hospital site
- South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust - £163 million re-development of Torbay Hospital with diagnostic centre offering MRI scans, more single rooms and day-case operating theatres
- University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust - £711 million for new and refurbished buildings including a brand new women's hospital and a stand alone children's hospital to be created at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Andrew Lloyd-Kendall, Policy Manager at the NHS Confederation, commenting on the Department of Health’s announcement of the PFI go-ahead said the Confederation welcomed the decision 'to allow these key PFI projects to proceed in order to deliver much needed health facilities for their local communities.' He added, however, "we must make sure that the short-term cost-savings of these PFI schemes are balanced against the need to deliver long-term quality health services."

The announcement of PFI builds came at the same time as the BBC reported that at least 10 major hospitals in England face potential closure or a downgraded role. Talks are under way about removing emergency care from hospitals in London, Surrey, Sussex, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cornwall.

Commenting on the possible closures, Dr Jonathan Fielden, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, says:

“We have to ask whether some of these hospitals and services are facing closure solely for short term financial reasons rather than the best interests of patients. Finance is a blunt tool for reorganising any service. Reorganisation should be based on evidence that it will improve patient care, and should follow widespread consultation with clinicians and the public. Only then will we rebuild the trust required to prove that change is not just about balancing the books.?

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