HC Deb 23 June 1997 vol 296 cc363-4W
Mr. David Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to conclude his review of PFI projects in the health service in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. [4201]

Mr. Galbraith

Alongside the review being undertaken by the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) I have been undertaking a similar review of Health PFI schemes in Scotland. I have today written to all Scottish MPs, giving full details of the conclusions I have reached.

I am committed to delivering PFI-led service improvements in the Scottish Health Service. A number of high quality PFI projects, such as those at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the hospitals at Law and Hairmyres, which will deliver clear health care benefits, are well placed to proceed to financial close. I wish to see those benefits on the ground as quickly as possible and have asked my officials to push forward with these.

However it has become clear that other projects are not appropriate for the PFI process. Last week (Monday 16 June) I announced that, in view of the urgent nature of the maternity and theatre proposals at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, we would push these aspects of the project forward through £36 million of public funding. Other aspects of the original project, such as catering and the car park facilities, will continue to be pursued under PFI.

After consideration, I have concluded that the PFI process at the Western General in Edinburgh should also be halted. The PFI project for the Western is complicated by the fact that it is an existing NHS site with a large number of buildings of varying ages, functions and conditions. My view is that in the case of the Western General, PFI is not the right route. Instead the Government intend to provide around £40 million to fund a new ward and theatre block which is so clearly needed. Our proposals will also enable the go-ahead of the midwife-led maternity unit.

I think it only right that further major PFI projects such as the Western Infirmary should be taken forward only once the overall review of the PFI process in Health has been completed. However there are numerous other relatively smaller Scottish Health projects exploring PFI. I want Trusts and Boards to continue to pursue these projects and to come forward with new proposals. There will be rigorous scrutiny of these projects at every stage of their development. A project must be proven to be affordable, value for money and, most importantly, offer real health care improvements for Scotland.

I will be working closely with my hon. colleague, the Minister of State, Department of Health, over the coming months at improving the PFI product and will also be exploring the possibility of developing other models of structured private finance schemes in the longer term.

Back to