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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 August 2010

Private Finance Initiative: A licence to print money

THE COST of financing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes in the National Health Service has risen to a staggering 65.1 billion pounds.

PFI schemes account for all new hospital buildings and refurbishment programmes as well as providing many services in the NHS.

PFI schemes amount to a licence to print money for the private consortiums awarded the contracts. They are the equivalent of someone buying a house using a high-interest credit card instead of a low fixed interest mortgage. It means that billions of pounds in repayments each year, spread over 30 or more years, are drained from health budgets to finance the profits of big business companies.

Consequently many health trusts' finances are deep in debt and trusts are obliged to make cuts in the services they provide, including the closure of A&E and maternity departments. The move to establish more semi-privatised 'foundation hospitals' will inevitably mean even more cuts.

Healthworker condemns rip-off PFI schemes

"PFI schemes are a gigantic rip-off. Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust is paying 40 million a year over 35 years for two hospitals which actually cost 320 million!

These PFI hospitals will have 60 fewer beds and potentially 200 fewer jobs. Another 150 workers are having their wages cut through 'down banding' [ie regrading their jobs downwards].

The money handed over to fund this PFI scheme is index-linked to inflation for the duration of the contract. This is at the same time as our pay is being frozen.

These PFI contracts should be cancelled and all of the health service renationalised."

Adrian O'Malley, Unison branch chair, Mid-Yorkshire Health (personal capacity)

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In The Socialist 18 August 2010:

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