Farce of the new 545m NHS hospital which is too SMALL: Flagship unit forced to re-open old wards at the site it replaced
Birmingham's new Queen Elizabeth Hospital opened last year
1,213 bed hospital is the second biggest in PFI scheme in the NHS Replaced the old 840-bed hospital built in the 1930s which closed in 2010Bosses say old wards need to be reopened to meet the 'unprecedented demand on services across
the region, including the ageing population'

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Royal seal of approval: The hospital was officially named by the Queen when she visited Birmingham during her 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations

The hospital, where the Queen greeted members of the public, was Birmingham's first new acute hospital for 70 years when it began receiving patients in 2010

The hospital, where the Queen greeted members of the public,
was Birmingham's first new acute hospital for 70 years when it began receiving patients in 2010

The finance behind the project came
from Consort Healthcare Ltd, which is part of the construction firm
Balfour Beatty, a key player in PFI schemes.

The contract lasts for 40 years from the date of financial close – when all legal matters were agreed – which was in June 2006.

The new hospital, in Edgbaston, may also
be a victim of its own success, as patients from the region travel to
the widely-praised facility in preference to local clinics.

WHAT ARE PFI SCHEMES

PFI schemes were a key part of the Labour government's modernisation programme for hospitals.

Under
the schemes, private firms paid for the building of new hospitals,
with trusts repaying them over 30 or more years, with interest.

But due to the nature of the deals, the ultimate total cost is often far more than the value of the assets.

Taxpayers
have been left with a crippling 60billion repayment bill for hospitals
built under the private finance initiative, leaving many trusts facing
major financial difficulties.

Trusts
also agreed to pay firms for maintenance of the properties, meaning the
firms can charge exorbitant sums as there can be no competition.

Previous examples include hospitals having to shell out 242 just to change a padlock and 13,704 to install three lights.

Dame
Julie Moore, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS
Foundation Trust which runs the hospital, said it needed to reopen the
old wards 'to meet the unprecedented demand on services across
the region and, in particular, on the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital'.

She said the Midlands region had seen a 10 per cent increase in admissions to accident and emergency departments.

Dame Julie said the trust was 'proactively responding to a steep rise in the number of GP referrals, self-presenting patients and emergency admissions'.

Speaking on BBC Radio West Midlands, she said: 'We’ve seen the biggest number of patients coming in since we’ve been keeping records.

'We’ve got an ageing population, people with chronic disease, people are living longer and we’ve had the winter period.

'We’re seeing far, far more patients than we did have. Clearly we built the new hospital because the old hospitals didn’t meet the standards of the 21st century.

'What we’re not doing is looking after patients in corridors, but this way they’re in a proper ward environment.'

She said the refitted wards would meet 'the highest' infection-control standards.

The new Queen Elizabeth Hospital was Birmingham’s first new acute hospital for 70 years when it began receiving patients in 2010.

Labour launched its 2010 General Election manifesto at the new site, which was officially named by the Queen when she visited Birmingham during her 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The parts of the old hospital that will be re-opened will be next to the new buildings.

So far 52 beds have been opened in the most modern part of the old hospital building.
But two wards of 36 beds each will this week be opened in the older part of the building, which was built between built between 1933 and 1934.

But the trust says it has seen a 20 per cent increase in patients coming in to the hospital and has 'completely filled' the new Queen Elizabeth.

Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said it needed to re-open the old wards 'to meet the unprecedented demand on services across the region'

Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said it needed to re-open the old wards 'to meet the unprecedented demand on services across the region'

The trust the said the refitted wards would meet 'the highest' infection-control standards

The trust the said the refitted wards would meet 'the highest' infection-control standards

When the new building first opened, the hospital’s accident and emergency department would receive around 30 or 40 patients on a typical Saturday. In recent weeks, that figure has reached 120.

Other methods of dealing with increased patient numbers, including commissioning treatment from the private sector, have already been tried.

And the Trust has also suspended its
policy of keeping a single ward in the new hospital empty at any given
moment, for refurbishment and cleaning.

The
aim was to ensure that every ward was redecorated and deep cleaned on a
regular basis, to reduce the rate of hospital acquired infections. But
could only be done while the ward was empty of patients, and the
hospital is now being forced to keep all its wards open permanently,
creating an extra 36 beds.

The trust has now reluctantly taken the
decision to re-open two wards, one for men and one for women, in part of
the old hospital known as West Block.

A spokesman for University Hospitals
Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said: 'The trust is proactively
responding to a steep rise in the number of GP referrals,
self-presenting patients and emergency admissions.

'This
rise has impacted on elective surgery and rather than see operations
cancelled we are increasing capacity to ensure we can continue to
deliver timely care to the people who come to us for our quality
interventions and expertise.

Unprecedented demand: The old hospital (pictured) is needed as the NHS is unable to cope with a massive increase in demand for treatment, caused partly by the region's aging population

Unprecedented demand: The old hospital (pictured) is needed as the NHS is unable to cope with a massive increase in demand for treatment, caused partly by the region's aging population

'The
region has seen a 10 per cent increase in A&E attendances in the
first quarter of the year. University Hospital Birmingham is seeing 65
per cent of this figure.'

The spokesman insisted there was no cause for concern about hygiene or patient safety.

'The Trust’s stringent policies on infection prevention and control are implemented across the entire hospital site by staff who are trained to uphold standards that have the patient’s safety and hygiene at the centre of everything we do. The two wards being opened will be configured and equipped to ensure the highest level of hygiene.'

PFI projects have been embroiled in controversy for a number of years. Another hospital, the
Norfolk and Norwich was completed in 200, but faced hundreds of job cuts as it sought to balance its books,

And just last month it was announced that a state-of-the-art police station is to cost taxpayers a total of 21million over the next 30 years, even though it is closed to the public.

The front desk at the station, which opened 11 years ago in a 30-year private finance deal, is shut to save costs, and has been replaced by a mobile police van in the car park for eight-hours-a-week.

But police are still committed to handing over 700,000-a-year for the station at Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, South Wales, in the finance deal until 2031.

The total cost for the building, which provides a home for the force's Hi-tech Crime Unit and the Neighbourhood Policing Team for the Amman Towry area, will be 21m – almost 10 times the cost of building the station.