Managers of the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth have warned that it is ‘on the brink of financial collapse’ because of the rising cost of its private finance initiative scheme.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he has been contacted by 22 NHS trusts which claim their clinical and financial stability is at risk because of the spiralling cost of PFI contracts. One is the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which is responsible for the QA.
Under the schemes, which were expanded by the previous Labour government, private capital is used to fund public infrastructure projects such as schools and hospitals.
The public sector body then repays the private firm with interest over an agreed time period and in some cases the costs of maintaining the buildings.
However, the trusts say they are now unable to pay for their schemes - believed to be worth more than £5.4 billion in total - because the payments of their “NHS mortgages” have inflated during the recession.
Mr Lansley told The Daily Telegraph: “Over the last year, we’ve been working to expose the mess Labour left us with, and the truth is that some hospitals have been landed with PFI deals they simply cannot afford.
“Like the economy, Labour has brought some parts of the NHS to the brink of financial collapse. Tough solutions may be needed for these problems, but we’ll help the NHS overcome them. We will not make the sick pay for Labour’s debt crisis.”
According to reports, Buckinghamshire, West Middlesex Barts and the London, Oxford Radcliffe, North Bristol, St Helens and Knowsley, as well as Portsmouth are just some of the trusts in difficulty.
The Department of Health is expected to detail plans to resolve the problem in coming months after meeting with executives whose trusts are in difficulty. Proposals are expected to include the renegotiation of PFI contracts and cost-cutting.
Shadow health secretary John Healey said: “Andrew Lansley is trying to offload blame for the present problems his policies are causing in the NHS. The reality is that all hospitals are being forced by the Tory-led Health Bill to make deeper cutbacks as billions are wasted on new bureaucracy in their huge NHS reorganisation.”