Bank under fire over NHS deal

Pinderfields Hospital general view
Pinderfields Hospital general view

A BANK has been accused of profiteering while NHS budgets are slashed after selling its share in Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sold its 50 per cent stake in the new hospitals this week for an undisclosed profit.

The trust faces rising repayments for the hospitals under a 35-year Private Finance Initiative, a deal struck with RBS and Balfour Beatty Construction.

Through its subsidiary Royal Bank Project Investments, RBS cashed in its share as trust bosses face £60m of budget cuts over the next two years.

Unison’s Adrian O’Malley said: “It’s a scandal. It’s profiteering and the government is allowing this to happen. Banks caused the economic crisis and now we are all paying the price for them fleecing the country. Unison is calling on all political parties to stop it happening.”

The buyer was HICL Infrastructure Investments, which bought stakes in three PFI projects, this week, including Mid Yorkshire, for a total of £32.8m.

Unions were angered further when it emerged that HICL, which was originally set up by HSBC bank, is registered in Guernsey and not subject to UK tax laws. Dozens of PFI schemes have been bought by HICL, which has been accused of diverting public money offshore.

Mr O’Malley added: “We are facing £60m of cuts at this trust and tax-dodgers are making a fortune.”

A spokesman for HICL said UK tax was paid on individual PFI projects. He said: “HICL aims to be as efficient as possible in distributing yield from underlying investments to its investors, mainly UK resident retail investors, local authority pension funds and institutional investors, the majority of whom are based, and taxed, in the UK.”

RBS confirmed the sale but declined to comment further.

Balfour Beatty said there would be no change in contractual arrangements at the hospitals. A company spokesman said: “Also, there will be no impact on the services provided by Balfour Beatty at Mid Yorkshire.”