§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Tom Sackville)
There are a 112 building schemes in progress with a construction cost of over £1 million, with a further 75 in the pipeline.
§ Dr. Spink
Does my hon. Friend recall the media criticism of the decision to close the 400-bed unit at Rochford, even though it was based in an old workhouse and could not serve patients' needs effectively? Will he join me in welcoming the new 400-bed unit at Southend trust hospital? It has replaced that old workhouse unit and will serve many more patients, and serve them much better than the old unit. Will he fight the perverse antediluvian tendencies of the Opposition, who seek to resist all sound change we want to make in order to invest in the future of our national health service?
§ Mr. Sackville
I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that his constituents will receive better health services in modern surroundings at the Southend hospital. The Opposition's constant carping and criticism of any closure is always accompanied by the construction of excellent new facilities elsewhere.
§ Mr. Betts
How many of the projects are now stuck in the private finance initiative assessment process? What is the average delay while projects are subject to that assessment? Is it true that those delays were responsible for a £200 million underspend in the national health service capital budget in the previous financial year?
§ Mr. Sackville
The PH will be a better way of procuring hospitals quicker and more cheaply by using all the skills of the private sector in tandem with those of the NHS.