High cost of new Blackburn health centre

Posted on September 28, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Lancashire Telegraph | By Chris Hopper | NHS Blackburn with Darwen | 28 September 2009

A NEW health centre due to be built for £21million will cost taxpayers more than £50million, it has emerged.

Health bosses last month secured private finance for the facility, in Alma Street, off Barbara Castle Way, Blackburn, with a deal to lease the building back.

But now the Lancashire Telegraph has learned that under the terms of the deal, NHS Blackburn with Darwen will pay around £2million a year for 25 years, with annual instalments adjusted for inflation.

And the trust must then make a further payment if it wants to buy the site at market value in 2034.

Yesterday, Roy Davies, Blackburn with Darwen’s health watchdog, criticised the deal and similar public finance initiative (PFI) schemes.

He said: “I don’t think this is a good way to built public buildings at all. I think it is disgusting that we have so much money to pay back.

“I am trying to discourage NHS officers from going down the PFI route.”

Coun Davies said he believed cash for the build of the health centre should have been found within NHS Blackburn with Darwen’s budget.

Burnley General Hospital’s new £29million maternity unit has been paid for from East Lancashire Hospitals’ capital fund, although the Royal Blackburn Hospital extension was bankrolled by PFI at huge cost to taxpayers.

The new health centre, which is expected to open in September 2011, will replace the outdated Montague Health Centre.

Paul Hinnigan, NHS Blackburn with Darwen’s finance director, said: “A replacement for Montague Health Centre has been a priority for some time.

“We have an option to purchase the new health centre at the end of the lease which will be linked to its market value.

“It is not a commitment to buy and we can decide whether or not to take up the option at that time.”

The Lancashire Telegraph has previously revealed that East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust will pay £680million over 35 years for the Royal Blackburn Hospital extension, which opened in 2006.

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