Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/944/25261
Carlisle NHS privateers leave patients at risk
Dave Barton, Carlisle Socialist Party
What kind of people would build a hospital children's ward with a firewall which stopped just above a false ceiling, allowing smoke and flames to spread? Or worse still, seal a duct in the special care baby unit with foam that was not fire-resistant? And keep these and other dangers hidden from the staff, patients and even management of the hospital?
Answer: The kind of people the Tories and Blairites want to hand the NHS over to if they can finish its privatisation. Welcome to Health Management Carlisle Ltd (HMC), the PFI company that owns the Cumberland Infirmary, Tony Blair's flagship PFI hospital. Welcome to to the outsourcing firm Interserve, which maintains the non-clinical services.
Faulty and defective
A report published by the Cumbria News & Star in 2016 revealed faulty fire doors, a defective fire alarm system, unfinished firewalls in several wards and stairwells and gaping holes in firewalls which would have allowed smoke to spread to the whole hospital.
After keeping this hidden for years, even when the dangers became known they didn't act until forced to. So dangerous was the building that the hospital trust itself had to train 127 fire wardens who patrol 24/7.
From 2002-15 we've had to pay £239 million in PFI payments so far. After 35 years we'll have paid an incredible £1,018 million. But we still won't own the hospital!
There's only one solution to this problem: rip up the contract and take this refuge of the sick into public ownership. Then we could spend the otherwise wasted £779 million on more staff and better safety.
In The Socialist 12 April 2017:
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