The European Investment Bank (EIB) announces a EUR 55 million loan to finance the new Vital Álvarez Buylla hospital in Mieres. The finance contract was signed today by EIB Vice-President Carlos da Silva Costa and the Finance Minister of the Principado de Asturias, Jaime Rabanal, in the presence of the President of the Principado, Vicente Álvarez Areces, and the Health Minister, José Ramón Quirós.

The project consists of the construction and equipping of a new general hospital designed to replace the existing facilities of the Álvarez Buylla hospital in Mieres as part of the integrated development plan of the 7th health area. The new hospital will be bigger and fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. It will provide a broader range of health services to the local populace and cater for a greater number of admissions, thereby reducing waiting lists. The increased efficiency of the new facilities whereby services provided in three different buildings will be brought together on a single site will also generate cost savings. The new hospital will also eliminate two other major disadvantages of the existing buildings: inadequate security and poor access. The works are scheduled for completion in 2010.

This new hospital investment was promoted by the Principado de Asturias and will be carried out and managed by GISPASA, a special purpose vehicle set up by the Principado de Asturias in 2004 to develop hospital infrastructure whose first major project was construction of the Asturias Central University Hospital (HUCA). Building the new Mieres hospital is GISPASA’s second operation. As with the HUCA, the project is financially and contractually structured as a public-private partnership (PPP), ensuring greater cost transparency, market-based management and the proper maintenance of the facilities for the next 30 years (the term of the operating lease between the Principado de Asturias and GISPASA).

The EIB loan will finance almost 50% of the total investment. The financial benefits provided by the EIB in the form of a long term (28 years) and low interest rate will be passed on in full to the Principado de Asturias and ultimately to the taxpayer.

As the European Union’s bank, the EIB is dedicated to financing projects furthering EU policies. The EIB’s support for the new Mieres hospital is justified by the fact that the project is located in a “phasing-out” region[1]*  and is in line with the EU policy of strengthening human capital by improving health facilities. The project also has medical training and R&D components, both of which are EU priorities.

*[1] A former Objective 1 region whose per capita GDP is greater than 75% of average per capita GDP in the EU owing to the statistical impact of the last enlargement.