Despite continued controversy six new PFI hospitals get funding including £711m for women and children’s hospital in Leicester

The government has given the go-ahead for six new PFI hospitals worth a combined £1.5bn despite the continued controversy surrounding commercial companies funding public sector projects.

University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust will get as much as £711m for new and refurbished buildings, including a brand new women's hospital and a stand alone children's hospital to be created at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

UHL's chief executive, Peter Reading, said: "The scheme remains one of the largest hospital developments in the country. The size of the investment is unprecedented in the history of Leicestershire's health services."

South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust will see a redevelopment of Torbay Hospital with diagnostic centre offering MRI scans, more single rooms and day-case operating theatres worth £163m.

Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust will see a complete redevelopment of the Manor Hospital site costing £140m.

Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust will get a £112m new hospital with more single rooms, an enhanced A&E and three new operating theatres.

And finally, Tameside and Glossop Acute Services NHS Trust will see £68m worth of investment in three day-case operating theatres, new surgical wards and a 30 place day hospital for elderly mental health patients.

PFI hospsital projects have come under increasing attack because of the cost to the public purse. Contractors has also voiced concerns about the projects.

As first reported by Building (23 June 2006), Amec chief executive, Sir Peter Mason has said it is "extremely unlikely" the company will bid for English PFI hospitals again.

The contractor suffered when it spent £7m in bid and design costs for the £167m Colchester General Hospital Essex, which was later scrapped by Rivers Healthcare Trust.