After a long wait the approval has been finally given to the redevelopment of St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital in East London. It was one of the most expensive PFI (private finance initiative) project in Britain.
Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, said that not all the money would be brought into action immediately.
AdvertisementOne floor at Barts and two floors at the Royal London will not be fitted out until it is determined whether population increases in East London indicate that it is an essential service.
This is expected to save £20 million a year which the trust has to pay. Ms Hewitt said that the two-month delay in approving the project was essential to ensure that large amounts of public money were properly spent. She said that she had to go through the hundreds pages legal documentation.
Then she made the decision only when she was absolutely certain that facilities for this part of London are needed. The project includes cancer and cardiac facilities and the provision of 1248 beds on the two sites when it becomes complete in 2016. Paul White, the chief executive of Barts and The London NHS Trust, welcomed the announcement as it is good news for the people of East London and the 8,000 staff.
Wendy Mead, of the Save Bart's Campaign was very happy and enthusiastic but criticized the delay. Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said that the Government has to review the scrutiny of private finance projects to avoid a repeat of this damaging uncertainty and delay for further projects.