Hospital costs warning

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NURSING chiefs have slammed what they called the “true cost” of privately-funded NHS hospitals.

The Royal College of Nursing Northern Region, based in Sunderland, says the ongoing capital and service charges for North East PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deals are many times their actual capital value.

In an answer to a Parliamentary Question, Treasury figures showed the PFI at University Hospital of North Durham has a capital value of £61million, but will cost £524.9million. Chester-le-Street Community Hospital has a capital value of £10.4million, but will eventually cost £89.8million.

“Talk about getting a bad deal,” said RCN Operational Manager Estephanie Dunn.

“The taxpayer is going to be servicing these debts for 30 years.”

The RCN acknowledged that, as well as financing costs for initial construction, payment figures included services such as building maintenance and support services provided over the lifetime of the contract.

Ms Dunn said: “Even if you factor in the substantial additional costs of maintaining and servicing these capital projects, it is scandalous that, in some cases, we have a situation where the taxpayer is paying almost nine times what the building is valued at, by the Treasury.”

She said the solution was not to cut investment in core services.