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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 11:29 GMT
Doors open at new hospital
Great Western Hospital
The Great Western Hospital took three years to build
A new hospital in Wiltshire has opened its doors to patients on time and in budget.

Swindon's Great Western Hospital welcomed arrivals to its accident and emergency unit after 0700 GMT on Tuesday.

The building it was built to replace, Princess Margaret Hospital, closed its doors to admissions at the same time.

The Great Western was officially opened in November.

Great Western Hospital
The building will eventually belong to the NHS Trust

Sonia Mills, chief executive of the Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, said the hospital was now fully staffed.

"People have been planning this for months. All the equipment is ready and we are waiting for people to arrive."

By 12 December, the Princess Margaret will have effectively closed and the Great Western will be fully operational.

But the new hospital has attracted controversy since building began in 1999.

Local residents had expressed concern about the cost, the location and a possible shortage of beds for a growing town.


We get a state-of-the art building and no facilities management

Paul Bentley

Financed by the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), the hospital cost 170m. The NHS will lease the building over 27 years at 18m a year.

Under PFI, health care is provided by the NHS, but the private company Carillion is now responsible for maintenance and employment in areas like security, portering and catering.

At the end of the lease, the building becomes the property of Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust.

Health officials say the PFI is cost effective and a good deal.

Paul Bentley, director of human resources at the Great Western, said: 'We get a state-of-the art building and no facilities management. The price we pay every year is a representation of this."

The new hospital has a total of over 550 beds and 3,500 staff.


Click here to go to BBC Wiltshire
See also:

08 Nov 02 | England
18 Oct 02 | England
21 Oct 02 | Health
30 Sep 02 | Business
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