Finance fears over hospital move

A GROUP charged with helping with the move of Papworth Hospital to Cambridge wants the Government to draw up a Plan B should finance for the move become unavailable. The Cambridgeshire Local Involvement Network (Link) has written to Health Secretary Ala

A GROUP charged with helping with the move of Papworth Hospital to Cambridge wants the Government to draw up a 'Plan B' should finance for the move become unavailable.

The Cambridgeshire Local Involvement Network (Link) has written to Health Secretary Alan Johnson urging a quick decision in favour of going ahead with the project.

It fears - a view not shared by Papworth chief executive Stephen Bridge - that the Government will not give the go-ahead for the private finance initiative project.

In fact Mr Bridge told The Hunts Post the capital cost of building the new state-of-the-art facility, including buying the land had fallen because of recession in the construction industry.


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Costs are now estimated at �170million when five years ago, even before inflation in the meantime, the cost was estimated at �180million.

Mr Bridge said he believes the new hospital is exactly the sort of public works the Government favours to keep Britain working during the recession.

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What could give an added fillip is that, in combination with Cambridge University and Addenbrooke's, Papworth has been short-listed as a possible national centre of academic scientific excellence, to compete with Harvard and Yale in the US. A decision is expected at the end of March.

Such accreditation would attract the finest academic brains, as well as research funding from pharmaceutical giants and other corporations.

"The university thinks it's a very exciting development to attract the very best talent from around the world and private sector investment," Mr Bridge said. "This area is an engine-room for the biotech community."

In the meantime, Link is keen for the Government to show its hand.

"Given the process the [Papworth Hospital] trust must go through, it is not envisaged that Papworth would be open for business on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus until 2013 at the earliest," Link wrote.

"We understand that if the proposal is rejected there is no Plan B. It is suggested that the only other option is to remain on the existing site. The trust considers this not to be financially appropriate and clinically not a good alternative, especially as the services need to grow.

"If the proposal is not forthcoming within a timely manner, then consideration must be given to creating a Plan B."

If the move does get the green light, Papworth-in-Cambridge is expected to become operational in the autumn of 2013, enabling the closure of the 90-year-old former tuberculosis facility in Papworth Everard.

Now the country's leading heart and chest hospital, which performed Britain's first heart transplant more than quarter of a century ago, it treats 70,000 patients a year - 10 times the number 21 years ago when Mr Bridge first arrived.

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