Hospitals face closure under finance schemes

8 Jul 99
The £650m third wave of NHS private finance schemes announced on July 7 will lead to the closure or downgrading of hospitals, and could spark another row over private funding.

09 July 1999

The six new schemes, which will consolidate hospital services on single sites as part of the NHS efficiency drive, follow a spate of trust mergers over the last few years and the recognition that split sites could endanger patients.

Hospitals in Derby, Leeds, Portsmouth, Oxford, Havering and Blackburn will be built or refurbished. Significantly, the new projects were announced by Prime Minister Tony Blair, displaying his commitment to PFI at a time when the policy is under fire.

He pleaded for trust and time to deliver his plans for the NHS. 'New hospitals are an example of what the NHS can be in the future, but we need a bit of patience and help from doctors and nurses to get the changes done,' he said.

The £52m scheme at Blackburn, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Health Care Trust will mean the closure of the Blackburn Royal Infirmary. The trust said it was a Victorian building that was unsuitable for the delivery of modern services.

In Derby, the two general hospitals are two miles apart and the trust hopes to replace them with a new, purpose-built hospital.

'The benefits would include improved response times by medical staff for complex emergencies, particularly out of hours,' said Julie Acred, the chief executive of Southern Derbyshire Acute Hospitals Trust.


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