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Trust foots bill for failed private health venture

A unused ward built for a private health care company has left a London NHS trust with a multi-million pound bill.

Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington had agreed a 10-year deal to build a £4.2m, 25-bed unit and rent it to Ramsay Health Care UK for £500,000 a year.

But Ramsay has pulled out after less than two years, leaving South London Healthcare trust to foot the bill.

It had inherited an £87m debt from Bromley Hospitals trust, which had signed the Ramsay deal in 2007, but cannot use the now empty private ward without impacting on its NHS budget.

Said a spokeswoman: ‘The private patient unit was not a commercial success, but we still want value for money for our patients.’ She added that the trust is ‘considering proposals of how best to use the facility in the future’.

According to its website, Ramsay Health Care is ‘a global hospital group operating over 100 hospitals and day-surgery facilities across Australia, the UK and Indonesia”.

It adds: ‘It is well respected in the healthcare industry for operating quality private hospitals and for its excellent record in hospital management and patient care.’

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