Health spending: NHS bill for hospitals could reach £65bn

The NHS in England faces a total bill of £65bn for new hospitals built under the private finance initiative (PFI).

Figures show that some NHS trusts were left with annual "mortgage" repayments accounting for more than 10 per cent of their turnover.

Under PFI, private companies win contracts to build and maintain new hospitals and mental health units and the NHS pays off the "mortgage" over around 30 years.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The 103 schemes were valued at a total of 11.3bn when they were built. But when rising fees and additional costs such as maintenance, cleaning and catering are taken into account, the NHS will have to pay back 65.1bn over the lifetime of the schemes.

The NHS currently pays back a total of 1.25bn each year but this figure is expected to increase until 2030 when it will hit 2.3bn, the BBC reported.

The final payment will not be made until 2048.

Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund health think-tank, said: "It is a bit like taking out a pretty big mortgage in the expectation your income is going to rise, but the NHS is facing a period where that is not going to happen."

Dr Mark Porter, of the British Medical Association, added: "Locking the NHS into long-term contracts with the private sector has made entire local health economies more vulnerable to changing conditions.

"Now the financial crisis has changed conditions beyond recognition, so trusts tied into PFI deals have even less freedom to make business decisions that protect services, making cuts and closures more likely."

Nigel Edwards, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, which represents trusts, said: "They were planned for a different world. I'm sure that in some cases people feel their hands are tied."

A Department for Health spokeswoman said: "PFI is about providing new and improved facilities for the long term benefit of patients.

"The Department scrutinises all PFI schemes to make sure they are value for money."