Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/736/15369
Defend the NHS - Stop Sherwood Forest cuts
Action against Profit From Illness!
Death stalks NHS market reforms, photo Paul Mattsson
A Private Finance Initiative is like a long-term, high-interest mortgage. But, in this case, when you've finished paying the mortgage, the house belongs to the bank!
PFI means that a private company pays the initial cost of building, say, a hospital - but then public money is used to pay back the private company several times over. At the end of the deal, the private company still owns the hospital.
Many NHS Trusts are making drastic cuts to 'balance the books', while still having to pay billions of pounds for PFI deals.
Socialist Party members from Mansfield and North Derbyshire write about one of those trusts - Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS.
News that Sherwood Forest Hospitals are fast running out of money confirms what the Socialist Party warned on the day the PFI deal was announced in 2005 under the then-Labour government. PFI stands for 'Profit From Illness'!
Trust regulator Monitor has said Sherwood Forest Hospitals need "significant changes, including reconfiguration, beyond efficiency savings to remain financially sustainable beyond the next three years".
In other words - massive cuts with health workers' jobs and patient services sacrificed to keep paying for the trust's PFI scheme.
But the so-called 'efficiency savings' or 'cost improvements' - fancy words for cuts - aren't enough to stop the trust, which is losing £36 million from 2011 to 2015, 13% million of its annual income, running out of cash.
'Reconfiguration' could mean another trust taking over. It is also possible a private company could be brought in to run the trust.
As when Circle Health was handed Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, the company would be virtually guaranteed a profit to be paid out from money that should be used for healthcare!
The trust board talk of the "rationalisation of the estate" - which surely means running down services to prepare for an eventual sell-off of property, either to developers or possibly private health companies.
Instead of "rationalisation", the trust should open the books. Let local people see where our money has been going. How much is the PFI company, Skanska, really making from the 30-year deal?
Thousands of local people have stopped at Socialist Party campaign stalls and signed petitions opposing PFI.
A massive campaign is needed, centred on health workers' trade unions, other unions, community groups and local people.
This campaign to defend the NHS must be linked to the fight against all cuts and privatisation.
Health workers and all supporters of the NHS should join the 20 October TUC demos in London, Glasgow and Belfast.
As well as preparing for action if the government doesn't back down on its plan to destroy the NHS, health workers should support the call for a one-day general strike against austerity.
According to the Mirror, Circle Health, the first private business to take over a whole hospital, Hichingbrooke, has donated over £1.4 million to the Tories.
The Hichingbrooke contract is worth £1.2 billion over ten years, and Circle is looking to get over £8 billion of NHS deals.
Circle's Christina Linnet, who worked for Andrew Lansley before he became the Con-Dems' first health secretary, is now shortlisted to become the media chief for Lansley's replacement, Jeremy Hunt.
Another Tory MP, Mark Simmons, gets an annual salary of £50,000 from Circle for ten hours 'work' a month.
Who represents us?
But don't expect Labour to be any better! The 1997-2010 Labour government massively expanded PFI in the NHS, while also overseeing the privatisation of non-medical services such as portering and cleaning.
Both parties are wedded to the big business capitalist system. We need a new party to fight for the NHS and for ordinary people against the interests of the big corporations.
The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which stands in elections against all cuts.
Socialist Party public meeting
Save our local hospitals
No cuts to pay for private profits
Wednesday 10 October, 7.30pm
Ladybrook Community Centre, Ladybrook Lane, Mansfield
In The Socialist 3 October 2012:
Education news & analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party news and analysis