Having been unsuccessful in trying to smoke out Mary Creagh MP over the Pinderfields PFI deal for the past five years, it is only now, with a general election on the horizon, that she finally breaks cover with a letter in your pages that is, quite frankly, the most economically apocryphal production I have ever perused.
Before addressing the claims of her letter, I would like to point out that in 1997 the average waiting time for an NHS patient was, according to the official Hospital Episodes Statistics, 41 days.
By 2005, after 8 years of Labour government it had risen year on year to 53 days before falling off to 49, but not to less than 41 days.
Ms Creagh tells your readers that Labour used PFI deals to build hospitals so as it didn’t add to our national debt.
The real reason was because these PFI deals didn’t show up on her government’s balance sheet, making things look much rosier than they actually were.
But debt is debt and there are no free lunches for the tax payer. She just put it all on our national credit card.
Wakefield people don’t need telling by an outsider that Pinderfields needed replacing but the PFI deal was so ineptly negotiated that it rewarded Balfour Beatty, the builders, with an annual profit of 29.7% for each of seven years, of an investment with no real risk. The deal involved privatising the infrastructure and some patient services.
Prior to 2010 Mrs Creagh worked in the Department of Health for Andy Burnham when he totally privatised Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire.
You don’t need to be an alumni of Oxbridge and the elite London School of Economics, as Ms Creagh is, to realise that what she says is not quite the same as what she actually did when in government. I look forward over the coming months of the election campaign to hearing Mrs Creagh publicly called to account over the glaring disparity.