More acute beds have been lost in publicly financed hospital building projects than in private finance initiative deals, NHS head of private finance and capital Peter Coates has claimed.
Mr Coates told MPs at the Commons health committee last week that an unpublished survey - not yet seen by ministers - showed that 493 general acute beds had been lost in schemes given approval by the present government.
But while 322 beds had been lost across 25 PFI projects, 171 beds had gone in just nine publicly funded schemes, he said.
This gives an average of 12.88 beds lost per PFI scheme, against 19 per cent per publicly financed project.
Mr Coates' figures were based on schemes worth more than£10m approved by the Labour government since its election, he said.
But figures for first-wave PFI schemes worth more than£25m, revealed by health minister John Denham in answer to a parliamentary written question in July, showed a loss of 571 beds across 18 trusts whose contracts had then been signed.
Mr Coates' statement came in reply to a question from MP John Austin, who asked where funding would come from to restore '2,000 lost beds'.
Mr Coates said: 'I don't recognise the figure of 2,000 bed losses.'
NHS Executive finance director Colin Reeves told MPs: 'There has been a reduction in general acute beds.'
But he added: 'Intermediate care beds have increased to a greater extent than the reduction in acute beds.'
Mr Coates' figures showed that 628 intermediate care beds had been provided through the 25 PFI schemes, while the nine publicly financed schemes had added another 106.
He told journalists: 'We don't dispute that there has been a change in planning assumptions in terms of general and acute beds.'
But bed losses were due to these assumptions, not 'any particular way of procuring' new hospitals.
Mr Coates told MPs that the findings of the national beds inquiry would inform 'new planning assumptions'. But long-term planning guidance had not yet been issued.
'In the meantime, we're taking every scheme as it comes.'
He told HSJ: 'Before a contract is signed we can renegotiate the contract as we did at University College London Hospitals trust.
'That will be exactly what we do for all schemes until the longterm planning guidance comes out.'
But he insisted that the PFI contract at Dudley Group of Hospitals trust - where 600 staff are on strike against their transfer out of the NHS - could not be similarly renegotiated to exclude the staff.
'The minister said if we renegotiate, it would incur considerable costs and delay it by two years.'
A Department of Health spokesperson said the planning guidance would be issued 'in due course'.