Around £300m worth of agreed primary sector capital projects are at risk if next month’s spending review scraps the projects in the local improvement finance trust programme pipeline.

Concerns are growing that health capital spending may be cut in next month’s comprehensive spending review, as it is not covered by the government’s commitment to increase NHS funding in real terms.

Only “a handful” of the £1bn-worth of LIFT schemes being worked on by the Department of Health-owned firm Community Health Partnerships are set to reach financial completion before the announcement on October 20.

Projects worth about £300m have already received stage one approval from CHP and the local authority, meaning detailed plans are being worked on.

A senior source in health finance said few of these were due to complete in the next six weeks - meaning primary care trusts could be left with the bill for development work, if they want plans to still go ahead.

The source told HSJ: “Some of the PCTs are pushing on [with the applications], others are like rabbits in the headlights. Particularly if it is a joint development with a local authority, they are particularly twitchy at the moment.

“Some might go ahead in a scaled down form to save money. But these programmes shouldn’t have been started if they weren’t to save money.”

CHP helps the public sector find a private partner to form a LIFT company and when a preferred bidder is found 60 per cent of the joint venture company’s funding come from the private sector. The remaining 40 per cent is split between the PCT and CHP.

The local public-private partnership established then operates for 20 years, similar to acute sector private finance initiative deals.

The typical LIFT scheme costs £7m and the 49 LIFTCos have established 276 of them since 2001.

One law firm that works on LIFT schemes reported a late rush to get schemes finished before October 20.

Beachcroft LLP head of health real estate Eve Gregory said: “We have seen a real focus from some LIFTCos and PCTs to close on projects, while there is still approval and funding for LIFT schemes. It remains to be seen whether this will remain following the spending review.”