COMMERCIAL: North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust has discussed the underwriting of its proposed private finance initiative scheme with the Department of Health, and is hoping for an agreement within weeks.

The foundation trust drew up a business case for a £299m privately financed hospital build after the government withdrew public funding for an initial £460m scheme. At the time ministers suggested foundation trusts should borrow without state support.

The new business case has now been approved by the trust’s commissioners and NHS North East. However, the trust requires a government “deed of safeguard” to secure the borrowing, which is still awaited.

HSJ understands the trust expects this confirmation in coming weeks, but the decision has been delayed several times. About six other provider trusts are also believed to be waiting for the go-ahead for schemes.

A board report says: “[The DH has] indicated that they would be undertaking a full review of the [business case] despite previous approvals including a
recommendation to ministers and an evaluation by Treasury. This process is likely to take approximately three months to complete. DH considered it would be premature to go to market without DH approval of the [business case].

“The first draft of the design brief has been completed but there are a number of issues outstanding around clinical and technical processes.”