Blair backing for Broomfield PFI

THE PRIME Minister has revealed he expects a £170 million hospital scheme hanging in the balance will now go ahead.Tony Blair was replying to a question put to him in Prime Minister's Questions this week by West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns about the major redevelopment of Broomfield and St John's Hospitals, in Chelmsford.

By Juliette Maxam

THE PRIME Minister has revealed he expects a £170 million hospital scheme hanging in the balance will now go ahead.

Tony Blair was replying to a question put to him in Prime Minister's Questions this week by West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns about the major redevelopment of Broomfield and St John's Hospitals, in Chelmsford.

The project includes a new 10-theatre diagnostic and treatment centre, an emergency and critical care facility and outpatients' departments at Broomfield and the closure of St John's.


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It has been approved by Essex Strategic Health Authority but has been held up after the Government put a hold on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes until they were checked for “necessity and affordability”.

Mr Burns asked the Prime Minister: “Will you please help to expedite the authorisation of

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the Broomfield Hospital PFI scheme in Chelmsford?”

Mr Blair said a PFI review team had visited the hospital and had a “successful meeting”.

He added: “There are a number of financial and contractual issues that need to be resolved.

“We expect the work to take approximately six months but we hope it will have an optimistic conclusion to it.

“This is a scheme that I think is worth around £170 million or more so it is obviously a very important development and I think I can give you the assurance that it will go ahead as quickly as they possibly can once, as I say, they have sorted out these remaining issues.”

Commenting on Mr Blair's answer, Mr Burns said: “I welcome the Prime Minister's answer and I am pleased that the appraisal meeting last week went well and that the Prime Minister is confident that approval will ultimately be given.

“It is a shame that we may have to wait a few months for that approval but I am heartened by the response that the Prime Minister gave me and I am grateful that he looked into this issue and was able to give me an encouraging and helpful response.”

David Bullock, chairman of Mid Essex Hospitals Trust, which manages the hospitals, said: “I am optimistic that following the review we will get a positive outcome and obtain approval from the minister.

“We will then be able to move ahead on this project.”

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