Live near one of these hospitals? Try not to get ill soon.

Almost 60 hospitals could close due to PFI-related debts

View PCTs in Trouble in a larger map

South London Hospital Trust has been effectively declared bust, and the Department of Health has laid the blame at the feet of the "unaffordable" private finance initiatives started by Major's Conservative government but massively expanded by New Labour.

Once the last scheme Labour started is fully paid off, in 2049, more than £70bn will have been paid back. For the NHS as a whole, the repayments are relatively low – just £1-2bn a year from an annual budget of £100+bn. But for some individual trusts, they can reach 10 to 20 per cent of their entire annual turnover.

Now that the Department of Health seems to have moved to a policy of not bailing out these hospitals, they are all at risk of following South London Heathcare.

In September last year, the Department released a list of the 22 trusts "on the brink of financial collapse" because of PFI deals they can't afford:

St Helens and Knowsley

South London Healthcare

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire

Wye Valley

Barking, Havering and Redbridge


Oxford Radcliffe/Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre

Barts and the London

University Hospitals of North Staffordshire

Dartford and Gravesham

North Cumbria



West Middlesex

Mid Yorkshire


North Middlesex

Mid Essex

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells

Sandwell and West Birmingham (not fully signed off as of September 2011)

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (not fully signed off as of September 2011)

The 22nd trust on the Department's list, North Bristol NHS Trust, has repeatedly expressed puzzlement about their inclusion. A spokesman assured me that their PFI deals are financially sound, and that repayments account for 8 per cent of their budget. They are represented in a different colour on the map to highlight the disagreement.

Additional research by Helen Robb. Updated 14:50 to acknowledge North Bristol NHS Trust's objections.

Some of the hospitals at risk of closure

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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En français, s'il vous plaît! EU lead negotiator wants to talk Brexit in French

C'est très difficile. 

In November 2015, after the Paris attacks, Theresa May said: "Nous sommes solidaires avec vous, nous sommes tous ensemble." ("We are in solidarity with you, we are all together.")

But now the Prime Minister might have to brush up her French and take it to a much higher level.

Reuters reports the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, would like to hold the talks in French, not English (an EU spokeswoman said no official language had been agreed). 

As for the Home office? Aucun commentaire.

But on Twitter, British social media users are finding it all très amusant.

In the UK, foreign language teaching has suffered from years of neglect. The government may regret this now . . .

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.