Havering hospital trust denies it is struggling to pay for PFI

Havering’s hospital trust has denied a government claim it is struggling to pay for the privately funded building of Queen’s Hospital.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) has been named by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley as one of 22 with private finance initiative (PFI) schemes that have become “unaffordable”.

In 2006, Queen’s Hospital, Romford was built under a PFI at a cost of �261million.

Catalyst Healthcare (Romford) Ltd built the hospital and will maintain it until 2039.

The health trusts pays 12 per cent of its turnover on the building.

It also pays interest accounting for 4.9 per cent of its overall revenue expenses.

Since February, a team from the Tresaury has been working with BHRUT to analyse its PFI and see how savings can be made.

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A report in getting value for money included tips on:

• Effective management of contracts, for example, through reducing wasteful energy consumption and through the public sector sharing in savings on insurance.

• Making efficient use of space, for example, from subletting or mothballing surplus building space.

• Reviewing soft service requirements, so that the public sector does not buy more than it needs when specifying facilities management such as window cleaning and frequency of decoration.

The Treasury has estimated �1.5billion could be saved across the country if the same lessons are learned elsewhere.

The trust says it has identified savings of more than five per cent of its annual PFI costs.

BHRUT finance director David Wragg said: “I am really pleased that our experience at Queen’s Hospital in Romford could help over a billion pounds to be reinvested in patient care and other public services.

“Effective contract management and excellent working relations our with PFI partners have helped us identify over five per cent savings on our PFI costs over the last year.

“We hope this new guidance will support other NHS organisations as well as schools and other public projects get best value from their contracts and resources.”

Queen’s Hospital is an acute hospital with 939 beds and a regional centre for certain specialities, including neurosciences, a hyper acute stroke unit, a cancer unit and a women’s and children’s centre including neonatal intensive care.

The trust is currently waiting to hear from health secretary Andrew Lansley as he decides on whether to go-ahead with the planned closure of the A&E and labour ward at King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

Under those plans, Queen’s would see an increase in deliveries.