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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 December 2006

QEH Hospital - a victim of privatisation

THE DIRE financial crisis facing Woolwich's Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) hit the national press headlines this week. Although "well managed" according to the guardian's sources the hospital is facing the biggest deficit of any NHS trust in England.

Roger Keyse

But the reasons for the hospital's difficulties aren't hard to find. The QEH was one of the first hospitals built using funds from a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) privatisation scheme - its doors opened in 2001. So it's locked into a 'deal' that costs it about 9 million more to run each year than if it had been built using money borrowed from the government!

QEH's financial position is also sharply worsened by the government's 'resource and accounting budgeting' system (RAB). Applying this bizarre and punitive set of rules massively added to the hospital's official deficit.

In the grip of this PFI and RAB straitjacket QEH's financial situation deteriorated rapidly. A deficit of 37 million is expected in 2006/7, its accumulated deficit is due to reach 65 million by the year end. Its Chief Executive concedes that in commercial terms the hospital is insolvent.

QEH's top brass acknowledge that government policies caused its deficits, nevertheless they pushed ahead with damaging cuts to try to balance the books. 11 million was slashed from this year's budget - 153 posts were axed and 29 staff lost their jobs. And now the trust chairman says the hospital faces another 'extraordinarily hard' financial year ahead. Further cuts of over 6 million are already planned.

Local people are angry at these attacks and at the news that a so-called Independent Sector Treatment Centre is being proposed in this area. This could further destabilise and undermine the QEH's financial position whilst making the private contractor involved millions of pounds in profits.

But the local campaign to defend the NHS is growing. A recent well-attended public meeting organised by Greenwich Keep Our NHS Public unanimously demanded the government fully fund the QEH's financial deficits.

Everyone saw that the NHS is under major attack just about everywhere - so the meeting also unanimously backed the call for a national demonstration, preferably on 3 March, and pledged to work for the maximum possible turnout from the area.

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In The Socialist 15 December 2006:

NHS Crisis: Turn anger into action

Teachers support day of action against health cuts

QEH Hospital - a victim of privatisation

NHS news


War and terrorism

Frankenstein kills out of control monster


Violence against women

Ipswich murders lifts lid on violent world


Workplace news and analysis

PCS: Vote 'Yes' against job cuts and low pay

Heroic struggle scores victory for Visteon workers

Victory for Glasgow's Council Workers in the Fight for Protection


Special feature

Privatisation, but not as we know it


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

The wealth gap widens


International socialist news and analysis

Good riddance to the 'butcher of Chile'


Obituary

JOHN HAMILTON Blairites re-write history


Socialist Party news and analysis

Private companies rule - and ruin

BNP fiasco but vigilance essential


Workplace analysis

TWGU merger: Build a fighting union

Mass meeting prepares for action

Protesting against fare increases

Leeds workers on strike to defend pensions


The Socialist Xmas quiz

The Socialist quiz


 

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