pounds 260m private hospital deal slated

COLIN BROWN

Chief political correspondent

Labour last night criticised the Government for giving Treasury approval to private sector consortia to build two NHS hospitals at a total cost pounds 260m. The two deals were seen by ministers as ground-breaking investment in public service capital projects by private companies, which may release millions of pounds for NHS hospitals in the future.

But Labour warned it could be the "thin end of the wedge" for private enterprise in the health service, a charge denied by Health ministers. The consortiums will own the buildings at the end of the contracts, but NHS trusts may lease them.

The hospitals will be privately built, but run by the NHS for NHS patients. There will be private patients units and the private companies will provide support services, including cleaning and maintenance.

Harriet Harman, Labour's health spokeswoman, said: "These are major departures for the NHS. We think they are using the private finance initiative to drive the private sector into the NHS."

The contracts are for the pounds 170m Norfolk and Norwich hospital, providing 700 beds, to replace two hospitals in Norwich, by a consortium involving John Laing Construction; and a pounds 90m rebuilding project for 520 beds at the Princess Margaret Hospital , Swindon, by a consortium led by Tarmac with United Medical Enterprises.

The contracts for the hospitals have yet to be signed, and Whitehall officials denied the consortia were waiting for the passage of a Bill being rushed through Parliament to give the Health Secretary, Stephen Dorrell, power to take over debts from hospital trusts.

The Bill was needed because some private sector companies had been anxious to ensure that the Government would take on the debts, in the unlikely event that any NHS trusts went bankrupt, or were wound up.

If Labour win the next election, they will be bound by the contracts and will have to face running the NHS with privately-financed hospitals.

Ms Harman said the contracts were "shrouded in secrecy" and needed to be opened to public accountability. The Norfolk and Norwich contract will run for 60 years: at the end of the term, the NHS trust has the option of taking the hospital into its ownership. The NHS Trust will employ the staff and there can be no change to the facilities without specific agreement of the Trust.

At the Swindon hospital, the contract will run for 25 years with an option to extend it for 15 years. After construction, the consortium, the Hospital Company, will own the buildings and lease them to the Trust.

pounds 14bn target, page 22

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week