More than 100 beds to go at new East End hospital - before they are even opened
PUBLISHED: 15:42 04 April 2011
More than 100 beds are to go at the East End’s new hospital before they are even opened because of debt owed to private financers, a health watchdog says.
Campaign group Health Emergency says cuts to the NHS have left Bart’s and the London NHS trust, which is behind the new Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, with a bill for hospital space it “cannot afford to run”.
The new £1billion construction is being paid for through a private finance initiative (PFI).
This means the developers, Skanska and Innisfree will put up the cash now and be paid back over 42 years.
But Health Emergency says the PFI – which is the most expensive for any hospital in the country - will leave the trust paying back five times the amount it owes.
Dr John Lister, Health Emergency’s information director, said: “The PFI is a horrendously flawed system. Costs will go up year by year. Jobs and treatment for patients are the things that will be sacrificed.”
The group said that cuts imposed by central government place the trust in a difficult position, as it has less cash coming in but soaring debts.
Earlier this year Barts and the London NHS trust announced it was scrapping over 600 jobs to deal with government cuts.
The trust said it is misleading to describe the cost of any new hospital in terms of bed numbers.
The PFI provides the “best solution” to replacing outdated facilities, it said.
The new hospital will have 32 operating theatres, improved intensive care wards and cutting edge equipment for diagnosis and treatment.
A spokeswoman added: “[The investment] covers some of our clinics for outpatients - the majority of the patients we see and treat - who do not require inpatient beds.
“It is crucial to note that over the 42-year lifetime of our PFI contract, almost half the costs are associated with vital support services, such as cleaning, catering and patient transport, which all acute trusts incur as part of their normal operational expenditure.”