REVEALED: Sheffield hospital wing closed on fire safety grounds will end up costing the NHS £122m under ‘rip off’ PFI scheme

The Northern General Hospital building which was shut down last year on fire safety grounds has cost the NHS more than £37 million – almost £12m more than it originally cost to build.

By Dan Hayes
Friday, 15 March, 2019, 17:21

The Hadfield wing was closed in December after fire officers ordered hospital bosses to shut it until remedial work could be carried out on its walls.

The building was opened in 2007 after being constructed under a private finance initiative contract by Japanese company Kajima.

Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.

A majority stake in the contract was sold to Guernsey-based investment fund HICL in 2011, with the NHS paying more than £3.5m in interest, rent, repaying the lease and operating costs to the contract owners in the 12 months before the wing was closed.

Health service campaigners in Sheffield said the building is a prime example of what a poor deal taxpayers get out of PFI.

Over the course of the contract, the NHS is scheduled to pay £122m in total – over £96m more than if the wing had been paid for upfront.

Catherine McAndrew, from Sheffield Save Our NHS, said: “The Robert Hadfield Wing is a perfect example of the rip off that is PFI. By the time the contract is over, we will have paid the contract holders £122m for a hospital wing that cost £25.9m for which we have already paid £37m.

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“Kajima and HICL’s shareholders have had more than enough from us. PFI contracts such as these should be renationalised and brought back in house so this money can be spent on caring for patients rather than the profits of private companies.

“It is an added insult that the wing has had to close for not meeting fire safety standards despite the contract holders being given almost a million pounds last year to maintain the wing.

“We will be putting in a Freedom of Information request to the hospital trust to ascertain whether this constitutes a breach of contract.”

Neil Priestley, director of finance, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Regardless of whether a building is built via PFI or not, patient safety is our priority and we are working with the contractors and fire authority to ensure the appropriate work is undertaken before we re-use the building for patient care.

“Due to the size of the building this will take some months but we are clear that we want the building back in operation as soon as the fire authority are content.

“This is the only PFI building we have and the contractors pay for the costs of repairs. We are not currently paying the charges for the vacated wards.”