Thursday, June 04, 2009

'Dark And Dangerous' Hospital PFI Con-Trick

Wheels are falling off New Labour's disgraceful con-trick with doctors warning hospitals built using the PFI scam will put a drain on the NHS for years to come. Faced with crippling debts and cash going straight into the pockets of big business, it's time to pull the plug on the shameful shiny temples to New Labour.

The British Medical Association is warning of 'dark and dangerous times ahead' as a whole generation is set to be left with a £50 billion building bill going straight into private pockets. The NHS is struggling to pay back the bill for its hospitals which are worth only one-fifth of the amount they cost to build.

Millions of pounds are being squandered on a vast army of hospital managers and private PFI consultants spawned with the sole purpose of trying to balance the books and plot the next PFI debacle. Front line services and patient care are left playing second fiddle to the obsession. The NHS could save around £350m a year just by cutting back on the management parasites.

But the disgraceful con-trick is being played out right under the noses of the long-suffering patient and public. Private firms design, build and finance more than 100 PFI hospitals, while the NHS is left to repay the costs plus crippling interest for decades.

Using public money to prop up these shabby deals is a ludicrous waste. Patient care is being forced to take a back-seat to the process of the PFI schemes. Hospital managers spend more time struggling for ways to pay off the debt and put in new bids, leaving patients and front line services to suffer.

The smoke and mirrors con-trick of PFI schemes has been pursued with fanatical zeal and obsession by the government. A crafty way was found of building its shamed legacy on the back of the magic trick without the spending appearing on the public balance sheet.

Hospitals, schools, colleges are the tip of the iceberg. College building projects too are on hold because of the PFI funding fiasco. The list is endless. A neat trick was found to fool the public into a false sense of security during the boom years when credit and the living was easy.

Just borrow the cash to pump into PFI schemes. Private firms and the government were onto a winner. Now it's pay-back time as the chickens come home to roost and the country is saddled with the huge debt of government folly.

The BMA is warning repayments could cripple the NHS at a time when the budget is set to be squeezed to pay for the years of borrowing.

Using public money to support private firms in this way doesn't make sense. Repayments will be a drain on resources that could be going on patient care. Private firms are struggling to get funding from banks because of the depression recession.

Hospital building projects could put NHS finances in serious peril in the coming years, warn doctors as they urge ministers to pull the plug on new projects.

Trotting out the tired old treasury spin that PFI hospital schemes are "value for money" is an expensive joke. Arguing that PFI projects are put through a rigourous testing process to make sure they hold their own in a private market doesn't hold up to close scrutiny.

PFI schemes simply use a crafty 'value for money' weighting to make sure they come out on top in the 'value for money' stakes.

Some 20 or so new hospitals are now in the pipeline as the government is set to use public funds to prop up the private firms so they can push ahead and make an obscene profit without a thought for the future or the patients.

But why should the government care? The shiny New Labour temples will be left as a legacy long after the fag-end government has bitten the dust, leaving behind a legacy of debt for generations to come and an NHS up to its ears in debt to pay for the scam.

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