Shadow health minister Andrew Lansley has called for hospitals to be given government loans to fund capital developments.

Mr Lansley told HSJ he wants hospital trusts to be able to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board to fund capital projects.

He said this could "unlock" private finance initiative schemes that are having difficulty because of the credit crunch.

"We need to be prepared to think about a new structure," he said. "I think people in the NHS would welcome this because frankly the government keeps talking about accelerating capital projects ready to go to tender which seem to have just stalled."

Possible hospitals

He highlighted three hospital private finance schemes that he believed would benefit from access to government loans: Papworth Hospital; Southmead, in preparation by North Bristol trust; and Sandwell.

North Bristol trust chief executive Sonia Mills said its scheme was not stalled but "if alternative mechanisms were introduced by the Department of Health then we would, of course, be interested in them".

A DH spokesperson said it was "always willing to consider new, better value for money ways of investing in health infrastructure". However, it was "unlikely the same risk transfer and thus value for money" as the private finance initiative could be secured from the loans board.