Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust has won backing for its controversial plan to vacate the £3.6m-a-year PFI building it occupies in the grounds of Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel said NHS North West gave final approval for the reconfiguration on 9 August. Under the plans around 80 beds will be moved from the Edale Unit to a redeveloped site at North Manchester General Hospital.

According to a May report to the NHS North West board, the mental health trust stands to save £1.7m a year from the move. However, Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which owns the Edale Unit, could be left with costs of £3.6m a year if it cannot find an alternative use for the building. This could lead to an overall additional cost to the health economy of £1.88m. The move was strongly opposed by Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd (Lab), who suggested the mental health and social care trust’s motivation was simply to save itself money.

However, speaking to HSJ this week, Ms Daniel said the reconfiguration plan had been clinically led, and the subject of extensive consultation and review.

“The money saving is an issue, of course it is, but it’s not the predominant issue,” she said.

“The predominant issue is we think we’ll get a better service model. We’ll have intensive care facilities on both sites, be able to move to same sex wards, create a rehabilitation ward.

“We can do all that, for less money, and – we think – improve quality, so why wouldn’t we do that?”

Ms Daniel continued: “The big debate, that’s been played out predominantly through Tony Lloyd, is what do you do with these PFI-funded hospitals where service reconfiguration happens? There’s going to be loads more change in this health economy. How are we going to deal with that when two of the big hospitals are PFI funded?”

A spokeswoman for Central Manchester University Hospitals said: “Discussions are continuing about how the financial responsibilities, resulting from the changes proposed by Manchester Mental Health Trust, will be shared across the NHS bodies involved.”

Mr Lloyd said he had failed to get answers to his questions about problems arising from the move and would now take up the issue with care services minister Paul Burstow.

He told HSJ: “I hope at this stage I will get answers, or if I can’t get answers they will be putting it back on hold.”

A spokeswoman for NHS North West said the move had wide support and would “deliver improvements in quality and patient experience”.