Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hospitals Warning

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hospitals Warning

Article excerpt

Byline: By Amanda Crook Health Correspondent

Health bosses in the North have been warned about embarking on a pounds 200m hospital revamp by the author of a damning new report on privately funded projects.

Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money is being spent on private finance initiative (PFI) hospitals which are providing fewer beds and services, according to research published today.

The University College London report comes two days after the preferred bidder to transform Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital - the region's biggest PFI deal so far - was unveiled.

The author of the study into the country's first 15 PFI hospital projects, Prof Allyson Pollock, last night warned Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust that the entire process is flawed.

She said: "Newcastle health bosses may say they have learnt lessons from the first wave of PFI.

"They can learn lessons about bed numbers but what they need to learn is that the whole process is flawed. It is too expensive.

"PFI will involve cuts in services, maybe not in acute services but in the community."

Liz Twist, head of health for Unison in the Northern region, said: "This is yet further evidence that PFI is more expensive. We know this is true, we are feeling it at Durham and at Carlisle already.

"This is another red flag warning which Newcastle health chiefs should heed before they wade into the sea of PFI."

Len Fenwick, chief executive of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust, was unavailable yesterday and a hospital spokeswoman said no comment was possible in his absence.

The Department of Health last night dismissed the report - which included studies of the problem-hit PFI projects at Cumberland Infirmary, in Carlisle, the University Hospital of North Durham and Bishop Auckland Hospital - and found the cost of PFI resulted in bed reductions of around 30pc. …

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