A further 18 PFI hospital schemes worth a total of £2.3bn will be advertised over the next two years, said health secretary Alan Milburn.
The news comes as 16 projects to improve existing hospital buildings, worth £350m in total, were confirmed. The first four are at Birmingham City Hospital, Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Addenbrooke's in Cambridge and Morpeth, Northumberland.

Another 12 schemes are set to take place at hospitals in London, Wigan, Hull, Humberside, Northumberland and Northampton.

Health secretary Alan Milburn, who said PFI was essential to renew the NHS, declined to say where the 18 new PFI schemes would be sited. But he confirmed the setting up of private public partnerships to finance new local health facilities, including doctors' surgeries, health centres and community pharmacies.

These Local Initiative Finance Trusts are intended to provide money for smaller schemes, which will be lumped together by region and could include areas covered by several local health authorities. John Orr, NHS Estates partnering project manager, said these trusts would simplify the finance process for smaller firms. He said: "This will allow firms to be contractors more than financiers."

The Heritage Lottery Fund is to invest £27m in regenerating 33 towns that appear in the DETR's Index of Local Deprivation. Housing association the Peabody Trust will receive £2m to work towards the refurbishment of the 1930s north London Priory Green Estate, designed by Berthold Lubetkin of Techton Architects. In Scotland, Kirkaldy in Fife receives £1m to complement existing regeneration initiatives. The funding comes under the Townscape Heritage Initiative, a grant programme for the regeneration of historic urban environments.