Published: 04/03/2004, Volume II4, No. 5895 PageThe three partner organisations involved in the controversial private finance initiative for the Paddington Health Campus have denied press reports that one of the hospitals involved in the scheme is to pull out.

In a press statement last week, chief executives of St Mary's trust, Royal Brompton and Harefield trust and Imperial College London said they were 'absolutely confident' about the project's future, but were reviewing the business case and seeking cost savings.

Press reports had suggested that Royal Brompton or Harefield hospitals might be removed from the scheme.

'We firmly believe this is the most affordable solution for healthcare, ' the trust chief executives said.

'Currently it makes absolute sense to review the original outline business case to ensure that our plans still represent the best future for our patients and staff within a realistic investment framework.'

The future of the UK's biggestever PFI project has looked less certain since its projected budget skyrocketed from£360m in 2000 to£800m by 2003.

Planners had to review plans when it was discovered in September 2002 that the scheme needed 17.5 per cent more space to comply with new Department of Health rules.

However, the new outline planning application cannot be submitted until the DoH has agreed the outline business case, which may take a number of months to complete.

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, founder and director of research at Harefield research foundation, expressed dismay at continuing delays to the plans.

'To put everything together into an international centre is fantastic for the patients of this country and for science, ' he told HSJ.

'But in the meantime, by delaying them we have nobody coming to work here. If That is going to kill the dream then I am totally distraught.'

A DoH-chaired independent review into the project's spiralling costs is due to report privately to ministers in March.