Alarm over the 'affordability' of Anshen Dyer's mammoth £422 million PFI project at the Manchester Royal Infirmary has left the future of the scheme in doubt.
Manchester Primary Care Trust (PCT) has carried out a fresh appraisal exercise on the scheme's costing and has decided it is unable to proceed 'for the time being'. It has announced that the current designs will be subject to a 12-month moratorium while it decides the parts of the project 'it can and cannot afford'.
If the scheme had won the go-ahead it would have replaced two existing children's hospitals and constructed a new eye healthcare facility on the site of the existing Royal Infirmary complex on Oxford Road.
However, a position statement released last week confirmed that the PCT has 'concerns over the affordability of the scheme' and has demanded 'clarity about the overall financial situation including assessment of risks to its backers'.
It is worried it will fail to fulfil the obligations of the PFI deal, which would require it to pay £38 million over the 38 years of the contract.
The PCT's head of communications, Ian Rose, said there were major issues over cost. 'We have looked at all the projects we have planned and it soon became apparent that some were not affordable.
'It is frustrating because this was the most progressed of our planned projects, ' he said. 'But the fact is it costs too much.'
'The decision to put it on hold for 12 months is so that we can have time to agree what parts of the project we can move forward with, ' Rose added.
Anshen Dyer director Anna Winstanley admitted the practice is 'worried about the scheme's future', but insisted that it was 'continuing to work on it until we are instructed otherwise'.
'We do wonder whether it will go one way or the other, ' she added. 'But we don't know anything at the moment.'