Hospital PFI project went ahead despite warnings

Auditors' report reveals how ministers were told that deal for new facility was unsustainable

A hospital now losing £44m a year was allowed to go ahead with a private finance deal to build new premises despite the Government being warned that the project was unsustainable.

A report, commissioned by the hospital regulator, Monitor, and seen by The Independent, reveals that strong concerns were raised that Peterborough Hospital would not have the money for the new buildings.

Despite the warning – to both the Treasury and the Department of Health – the go-ahead was given for the project, which is now costing the hospital trust £22m a year to service.

Last year, Monitor found Peterborough to be in "significant breach" of the terms of its authorisation and warned that work on a turnaround plan for the hospital had "not progressed at the necessary pace". In February, the Government was forced to establish a £1.5bn bailout fund to help pay the debts created by prohibitively expensive PFI schemes, of which Peterborough was one.

Peterborough is judged at high risk of financial failure by Monitor and is likely to have to cut or reconfigure the services it provides and make staff redundant to balance its books.

In the report, from the accountants KPMG, into what went wrong at Peterborough, auditors conclude that while Monitor was aware of the risks of the project it was powerless to stop the Government from giving it approval.

It is embarrassing for Labour because, at the time of the approval, Andy Burnham was a Minister of State in the Department of Health. He is now shadow Health Secretary.

The report reproduces a letter sent by the then head of Monitor, Bill Boyes, to the hospital trust in 2007 and copied to officials in both the Treasury and the Department of Health, warning of the dangers of the project.

But because Monitor had no power to intervene, it went ahead and it was only in 2010, after the hospital had been built, that the true financial picture emerged.

Yesterday it emerged that up to 30 NHS trusts could be forced to merge, devolve services into the community and make jobs cuts as part of a radical restructuring of hospital care – partly as a result of the cost of PFI.

The Department of Health said it considered 21 hospitals to be "clinically and financially unsustainable".

Commenting on the report, a Department of Health source said: "This was a disastrous Labour PFI blunder. Labour was warned repeatedly by their own regulator that this PFI deal could bankrupt Peterborough Hospital but they pressed on regardless."

A spokesman for Mr Burnham said he would not comment until he had seen the full published report.

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    DBA

    £40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: DBA, London,...

    SAP HCM/PAYROLL CONSULTANT

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP HCM/PAYROLL...

    MS Dynamics NAV Developer

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Excellent oppor...

    SAP GRC/SECURITY CONSULTANT

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP GRC/SECURIT...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game