A Government health minister has hit back at claims that plans to close Huddersfield’s A&E are due to a PFI deal.
And he criticised predictions that extra deaths would happen if casualty care was shifted to Halifax.
It has been reported that the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) set up to build Calderdale Royal Hospital was due to cost £773m over the 60 year period.
Opening a Westminster debate on Tuesday, Jason McCartney MP, said: “This scandalous PFI is now influencing clinical and community health decisions to an enormously detrimental effect. This dodgy deal is set to cost lives.
“We are set to lose our A&E in Huddersfield as the PFI money makers stuff their pockets.”
But Health Minister, Ben Gummer MP, said the mortage on Calderdale Royal was actually only costing about £90m to £100m more than if the hospital had been built using public money.
Mr Gummer, son of high profile Tory, John Gummer, said it was “important to have all of the facts”.
He said once service charges and inflation were stripped out of the PFI deal, it wasn’t such bad value for money.
He said: “£773m is just the addition of the all the payments year by year.
“If you strip out inflation...you come to a figure which is about two thirds of that – £527m.
“If you then take out of that £527m the costs of providing maintenance, cleaning, porterage and the other functions of the PFI deal you come to a figure of about £263m.
“That is your financing charge.”
Mr Gummer said that figure was about £90m to £100m higher than one that could have been arranged through government borrowing.
He added: “These proposals are designed to save lives, it is not an issue of cost.”
Mr Gummer also cautioned Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman on his figures forecasting 157 extra deaths per year if A&E was to move to Halifax.
He said the calculation made a “serious error” of confusing A&E attendances and emergency admissions.
Mr Sheerman said his numbers were from an “impeccable source” but he would go back and check them again.
He added: “Let’s listen to the people of Huddersfield and get this right. At the moment the suggestion for closing A&E in Huddersfield is not right and the suggestion that Halifax is the only alternative is not right either.
“I think there is a scheme where we keep both A&E open.”
Mr Gummer said he would arrange a meeting between the four Kirklees MPs and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt when more work had been done on solutions to hospitals’ woes.