Letter - Hospital PFI is a dead weight

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I read with interest the Special Report on the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust in the Express on Friday April 10.

In particular the report into the funding of the new Pinderfields by the Private finance Initiative route. The report stated “Treasury figures show the payment will be £35 million this year, rising to more than £60 million a year after 2035/36.”

I am afraid these figures are hopelessly incorrect. The Trusts own ‘Publication of spend – monthly reports’ which show every item of expenditure of more than £25,000 spent by the Trust during the financial year show the truth about real cost of the PFI.

In the last financial year Consort Healthcare, the PFI consortium made up of BBW and HICL, an offshore finance company based in Guernsey, received payments totalling over £43 million from the Trust. This was up from just under £40 million in 2011/12. Next year the PFI costs are guaranteed to rise by at least the RPI inflation rate for February 2013, which was 3.2%. This will take the payment to over £45 million, a full £10 million more that the figures quoted by the Treasury.

Wakefield Mary Creagh MP is quoted as saying “Big new build PFI was an innovative way of financing.” And “I think it’s affordable.”

Presumably Mary also thinks buying a new car with a loan from Wonga is also a good idea!

Bob Chadwick, Mid Yorks Director of Finance, also says the PFI “monthly payments are affordable and were fully budgeted for and have not increased beyond budgeted levels.”

Unlike Mr Chadwick, Unison’s members who are facing pay cuts in the very near future, while the PFI companies are guaranteed massive profits at the taxpayers’ expense, are seeing the harsh reality of PFI creaming off NHS budgets.

UNISON predicted many years ago that the PFI scheme would be a financial millstone around the local NHS neck for many years to come. With the payments already going through the roof the squeeze on the Trusts finance will become more extreme year on year.

We have commissioned a report – Dead Weight, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust’s impossible £2 Billion PFI burden which shows the true cost of the PFI. (copies available free on request on 01924 543114)

The PFI must be nationalised or at the very least renegotiated before the Trust is plunged into an even deeper financial crisis. This is the only way to guarantee that patient care will not suffer due to the financing of the new hospital.

Adrian O’Malley

Branch Secretary

UNISON

Mid Yorkshire Health Branch