Hospital PFIs out of local touch

7 Sep 00
The government's hospital building programme is ill-considered and could create expensive white elephants, a King's Fund report said this week, in yet another condemnation of Private Finance Initiative projects in the NHS.

08 September 2000

The health policy charity said the building of new acute hospitals had been given the green light without regard for the community services that must be developed alongside.

One of the report's authors, Anthony Harrison, fellow in health systems at the King's Fund, said hospitals being built could soon be outdated because planners did not take account of future needs.

He wrote that £1.4bn of PFI schemes had been agreed before the National Bed Inquiry reported earlier this year. He added: 'Hospitals should not be planned in isolation from other health services, and approval should not be given until the benefits to local people can be proven.'

He called for NHS Executive regional offices, rather than individual acute trusts, to be given responsibility for commissioning new buildings.

The King's Fund report, Private finance and service development, says design should be given a greater role in PFI schemes so that hospitals built using private cash can be adapted to meet changes in demand.

'The biggest users of hospital care are older people. Their health depends on the existence of good-quality primary and community services, working closely with local hospitals,' Harrison said.

'Building new hospitals under 30-year binding contracts with private companies, without also planning community services, could turn out to be both wasteful and inappropriate.'


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