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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 November 2012

Hospitals suffer from privatisation debt

Sherwood Forest

I read with alarm that the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) debts at King's Mill Hospital, part of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have now doubled from 1.26 billion to 2.05 billion over the 38 years of the 'mortgage'. That said, it doesn't come as much of a surprise.

The Socialist Party has repeatedly warned that PFI, heralded by Tory and Labour governments as the only way to get these kinds of projects built, would, in the long term, be a recipe for worse patient care, job losses and service cuts, with profit the sole motivation for those delivering PFI.

Here's a thought: how about collecting the 120 billion a year in avoided and evaded taxes from the wealthy and big businesses? Surely this is a much better way to fund projects such as hospitals, schools and our vital public services?

A BBC News article from 2 November quoted a public finance expert from Nottingham Trent University, Malcolm Prowle.

He said that in the early 2000s, when PFI was 'the name of the game': "There was a lot of enthusiasm to make sure the PFI got through, if that meant understating some of the costs perhaps that tended to happen."

I think that's quite revealing. The books of the Trust must be opened, so it can be seen exactly why it is in such a poor financial state, and likely to run out of money early next year.

It's unacceptable that patient care and health workers' jobs are being put at risk because of the need of private companies to maximise their profits.

The people of Mansfield and Ashfield, as well as ordinary people working for and served by NHS trusts throughout the country, deserve better.

Karen Seymour

South London

The accident and emergency department in Lewisham hospital, south London, is threatened with being downgraded to a non-admitting urgent care centre.

Also at risk are maternity services and other vital functions. Lewisham people are furious and thousands have signed opposition petitions already.

The cuts follow recommendations of the government appointed administrator for the failed South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) which was taken into administration due to huge debts.

Financial problems were overwhelmingly caused by Private Finance Initiative (PFI) building schemes agreed under both the Tories and Labour governments.

These plans have totally warped health service spending and priorities in the area as well as throughout the country.

SLHT ran hospitals in Woolwich, Bromley and Sidcup. The administrator pulled Lewisham hospital into the situation to spread the misery but people oppose all NHS cuts! If Lewisham A&E closes, local people will be taken to Kings College hospital or Bromley - and traffic in London is already a nightmare for ambulances.

A campaign is being set up, largely centred at present around Labour MPs who helped cause this crisis - they even tried to close the A&E themselves a few years back! Nonetheless socialists will be to the forefront in building a massive campaign in the community and in the trade unions against all attacks on our NHS.

Roger Shrives

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In The Socialist 7 November 2012:


 

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