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PFI hospitals 'asset stripping'

Hospitals built under the private finance initiative (PFI) are closing beds and cutting jobs in a "desperate bid" to balance their books, a campaign group has claimed.

Health Emergency said it had also discovered "asset stripping" sales of land and property as NHS Trusts also have to cope with the current round of public spending cuts.

Land is being sold by PFI-built hospitals in London, while a growing number of nursing and other jobs are being cut across the country, including hundreds at the new £256 million 1,200 bed Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, said the group.

Many other PFI hospitals are facing financial problems but have yet to announce cuts, claimed Health Emergency.

Its information director, Dr John Lister, said: "PFI means that hospitals face rising bills each year, regardless of their income. It also means that private sector profits are protected by legally binding contracts taking an increased share of declining trust budgets, while clinical services, patient care and the jobs of NHS staff are sacrificed, in an impossible battle to balance the books as the NHS faces real-terms cuts for the first time in a decade.

"Isn't it significant that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's massive and controversial Health and Social Care Bill is seeking to break up almost every structure in our NHS, claiming to make the system more efficient, but leaving PFI intact, and instead opening even more ways for the private sector to rip off the taxpayer and undermine public services?

"The Tories appeared opportunistically critical of their own PFI policy when Labour was implementing it, but are now happy to see this growing haemorrhage of cash from the NHS."

A survey of over 2,000 adults by Unison showed that three out of four were opposed to any move to have private companies running parts of the NHS Blood and Transplant Service.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "The review under way is exploring how further savings can be made and this includes continuing to outsource some activities. NHS Blood and Transplant will remain in the public sector: there are no plans to sell off any part of the blood service.

"We are not considering any functions that could risk destabilising the current national donor system. We have a wonderful system of altruistic donation of blood, tissues and organs in this country. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those who donate freely for the benefit of others."


From Belfast Telegraph