Published: 31/01/2002, Volume II2, No. 5790 Page 7

Manchester strategic health authority is set to review major capital projects, including a controversial private finance initiative scheme, to avoid plans that will 'mortgage the future'.

In a letter to Greater Manchester chief executives, seen by HSJ, newly appointed SHA chief executive Neil Goodwin says he will be initiating 'a number of strategic reviews and activities' to secure better service delivery from 2003.

One of these, the letter says, will be 'reviewing major capital developments across the conurbation in order to avoid the two biggest consequential problems of such schemes'.

'First creating new developments that feel immediately out-of-date on opening; and secondly, planning developments that will considerably mortgage the future in revenue terms.'

The review will include the£250m scheme to reprovide adults' and children's hospital services on a central Manchester site. Last October, an internal Manchester HA document revealed a potential 'affordability gap' of more than£30m a year - costs that would have to be met by commissioners from 2008, when the scheme is due to be completed.

The paper said additional costs relating purely to the scheme, rather than NHS plan developments, amounted to£4.8m a year in a 'best case scenario' or£7.8m in the worst case. A Manchester HA spokesperson said: 'The point of the review is to get a conurbation-wide picture of what's going on. I do not think There is an expectation of any specific outcome.'

Central Manchester community health council chief officer Nik Barstow said: 'It does seem appropriate that it is reviewed. Primary care trusts may be asked to pay a lot more revenue money for 35 years to fund the PFI.We hope these discussions are public and look at whether other services will lose out.'

Unison's North West region head of health, Bill McMillan, said: 'If they go ahead, other health services in Manchester will find themselves paying this enormous mortgage. Our hope would be that the review will conclude the scheme should be directly funded from government sources, rather than the PFI scheme.'