Hospital's Opening Will Be Worth Celebrating; He Was Born at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and Is Now Back Overseeing Its Construction as a Pounds 553 Million PFI Super-Hospital. Health Reporter Emma Brady Talked to Ian Woosey about the Project

The Birmingham Post (England), June 28, 2006 | Go to article overview

Hospital's Opening Will Be Worth Celebrating; He Was Born at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and Is Now Back Overseeing Its Construction as a Pounds 553 Million PFI Super-Hospital. Health Reporter Emma Brady Talked to Ian Woosey about the Project


Byline: Emma Brady

Watching the building site 'ballet' being performed by numerous yellow JCB diggers, there is a sense of relief that work has finally started on Birmingham's first new hospital for 70 years.

But before University Hos-pital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust's ambitious PFI plans were rubber-stamped by the Government, fears were already growing about the viability of such projects.

Earlier this year it was revealed that commercial partners involved in one of UK's first PFIs - Norwich and Norfolk Hospital - remort-gaged the pounds 200 million scheme, leaving the trust with serious debts.

Its PFI partner Octagon - made up of Barclays, Serco, Innisfree and John Laing -refinanced their consortium by raising the trust's borrow-ings to more than pounds 300 million and extended the repayment period by 20 years.

But Ian Woosey, general manger of Consort Healthcare, which is building Birmingham's new 'super hospital', believes PFIs will have to evolve because there is no alternative way of funding major public sector works.

"This is the largest PFI scheme outside of London and the second largest in the UK, so I think the opening of this hospital will be something worth celebrating," he said.

"PFI projects may become smaller in future but I certainly don't believe the bubble is about to burst, because there's no viable alternative to these schemes.

"Contracts no longer allow commercial partners to take out a refinancing package on PFI schemes."

Mr Woosey, who lives in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, was born at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1958 and said he had a "genuine passion" to see the new PFI project delivered properly.

Together with a pounds 325 million Sainsbury's development in Selly Oak and a pounds 40 million bypass scheme, the project is the city's single biggest act of urban regeneration costing nearly pounds 1 billion.

Consort has completed a hospital link road but Selly Oak New Road, which is being financed by the supermarket and the city council, is still the subject of ongoing negotiations.

But Mr Woosey scotched any rumours that Sainsbury's was getting cold feet about the project. …

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