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White elephant: Altrincham health and wellbeing centre will now never be used by NHS patients.

Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond gave in to demands from the Labour Party and agreed to stop signing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals in his Budget yesterday (October 29). Perhaps this is the reason:

Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Centre was meant to be the major new health hub for south Trafford – but it is to be converted into offices without a single patient ever crossing its threshold.

The building was constructed by local developer Citybranch for investment company Canada Life after a £35m deal.

Now NHS Property Services is leasing the building for an initial annual rent including utility bills for £2.4m, for 30 years, and it seems this cost was to be passed on to organisations renting space in the building.

But they can’t afford it.

St John’s Medical Centre said the move would cost its practice £70,000 a year, while Pennine Community Services said it was looking at £500,000 in extra overheads and Greater Manchester mental health trust £375,000.

At the heart of the matter is the Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – the organisation set up by Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 to oversee funding for NHS services in the area.

The building was that organisation’s baby – but it reneged on a promise to service providers about cost neutrality and they said the resulting rent would be too high.

Now the CCG wants to convert the building into commercial office space – costing another £7 million.

This means a piece of the National Health Service will be privatised without ever having been used by the public.

How will the CCG pay for NHS services in the meantime? And who will profit in the end?

This entire affair seems extremely questionable.

The people of Trafford need to know why their health service money was squandered on a £24 million white elephant that will never serve their community.

What has happened to their money?

Who has profited from it?

Who will profit from the plan to convert the building into office space?

And what will happen to the plan to modernise their health service?

Source: The brand new £24m health centre that will NEVER be used by NHS patients – and will cost another £7m to turn into offices – Manchester Evening News

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