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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Hospital will get 'back on track'
Derriford Hospital
Derriford: There are plans for 17 new operating theatres
Health bosses say they hope to have a 300m private finance initiative (PFI) hospital scheme in Devon back on track by late summer or early autumn.

Derriford Hospital's Vanguard project in Plymouth ran into trouble after two of the three contractors bidding to carry out the work pulled out.

Health chiefs say they are working hard to keep any delay to a minimum.

Representatives from the local health community are now meeting every two weeks to drive the project forward.

This backing is critical to the project
Paul Roberts, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

The project ran into trouble after one of the bidders for the contract dropped out to concentrate its business elsewhere, while the other withdrew due to the lack of a business partner.

The project includes a centre with 17 operating theatres and 400 beds for routine surgery and care planned in advance.

It will be built under the PFI and owned privately, then effectively leased back to the National Health Service.

Since the news in March that the project had been left with just one bidder, health bosses have been making representations to the Department of Health in support of the project.

Scaled down

Many individuals and organisations have voiced their support and concern that the project should go ahead as quickly as possible, they said.

Paul Roberts, chief executive of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "This backing is critical to the project.

"We, like everyone who has come out in support of the project, feel frustrated by what has happened but I can assure you we are working hard to keep any delay to an absolute minimum."

But there are strong indications the project may be scaled down slightly.

Chris Hoult, of the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "There may be a small reduction in the number of theatres and beds, but that's not going to make any significant difference in the scope of the project.

"We're talking about maybe a ward and a theatre."

Health trusts involved include Plymouth Primary Care Trust, South Hams and West Devon Primary Care Trust, North and East Cornwall Primary Care Trust, the South West Peninsula Strategic Health Authority and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.


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