Drop the NHS Debt - (PFI) is Draining the NHS of Resources
By Steve Carne, Dec 5 2014 07:14PM
The NHS is being held hostage by private financiers as a result of signing up to massive debts through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Through PFIs, many NHS hospitals have entered into long-term agreements with investment companies to finance the building and maintenance of hospitals. These hospitals are then leased back to the NHS Trusts at excessive repayment rates.
PFIs are being used for a range of public sector projects but the Department of Health has agreed the largest number – currently 118 with a capital value of £11.6bn. Over time, the sum total of repayments will be £79.1bn. According to one calculation, two hospitals could have been built for the cost of just one, had public sources of finance been used.
The largest NHS PFI project is the building of the new Royal London Hospital at the initial cost of £1.1bn, which is estimated to cost over the time repayment period of 43 years £7.4bn. In the case of Royal London Hospital it could have been as little as £4.1 billion over the same payment period.
The use of PFI for the building and maintenance of healthcare facilities involves excessive interest rates and inflated service charges. It is crippling the NHS and leading to cuts in services, loss of staff and the selling off of assets. Funds are sucked from hospital budgets and into the pockets of City investors, many of whom are registered in tax havens. PFI has become a major lever in the process of privatisation of the NHS.
In October 2013 a group of health campaigners formed Drop the NHS Debt to start a campaign on the scandal of PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contracts in the health service. We have put together a website directed specifically at health campaigners across the country providing lay summaries of the way PFI works, possible ways of reversing PFI, and a ‘toolkit’ enabling ordinary campaigners to find out the extent and nature of profiteering through PFI contracts at their local hospital. In turn this information would form the basis of local campaigns against PFIs and we suggest a possible leaflet for campaigners to use.
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