FINANCE: Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust could be left with a £3.6m-a-year white elephant if a local mental health provider wins backing to vacate its premises on patient safety grounds.

Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust says it has “severe concerns” about the design of private finance initiative building Edale House, located at the foundation trust’s Manchester Royal Infirmary.

According to an NHS North West board paper, the mental health trust has criticised the unit for having “multiple” potential ligature points, unsecured windows and a dangerous balcony.

The trust wants to save itself £1.7m a year – and support 
its bid for foundation trust status – by moving its 82 beds at Edale House to the redeveloped Park House site in north Manchester.

But the move would cost Manchester’s health economy an extra £1.88m a year, unless the FT – or others – can find a use for Edale House, NHS North West chief executive Mark Ogden reported to the SHA’s 4 May board. The PFI unit’s running costs are £3.63m.

Mr Ogden added that the Park House development would be below current standards for mental health units, offering just 25 per cent single rooms, compared with 100 per cent at Edale House.

According to Mr Ogden’s report, Edale House was built to replace the mental health trust’s previous Royal Infirmary premises – demolished as part of the site’s wider PFI redevelopment. But the trust never wanted the new unit, fearing “the PFI facilities were going to cost substantially more than their existing facilities”.

As part of the 35 year PFI deal Manchester’s primary care trusts agreed to pay £890,000 a year towards the cost of the unit  for six years between 2005-06 and 2010-11. That subsidy finished in April.

A Central Manchester FT spokeswoman would not disclose whether an alternative use for Edale House had been identified, saying it was “commercially sensitive”.

NHS North West said no decision was taken on 4 May about whether to support the trust’s plans.