The government has given the go-ahead for construction work to begin on the biggest hospital being financed through private funds.

The pounds214m Norfolk and Norwich Hospital scheme is the fourth project in progress under the private finance initiative.

Octagon Healthcare, a consortium led by the Laing Group, will design, build, finance and part- operate the 809-bed acute hospital under a 64- year contract with Norfolk and Norwich Health Care trust.

The 63-acre greenfield site project will replace two existing acute hospitals - the Norfolk and Norwich in the city centre and West Norwich Hospital two miles away.

Two publicly-funded hospitals have also been given the go-ahead, bringing the total value of new hospital build approved in the last six months to pounds550m.

The contract to provide all the computer and communications services at the new Norfolk and Norwich Hospital has gone to HBO and Company in a deal worth pounds20.4m.