Observations Medicine and the Media

The government’s criticisms of PFI don’t add up

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6566 (Published 12 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6566
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}margaretmccartney.com

As the NHS bill faces debate in the House of Lords, Andrew Lansley has been on the offensive, but his headline grabbing statements about private financing of hospital building don’t tell the whole story, says Margaret McCartney

Private finance initiatives (PFIs) seem suddenly to have become the scourge of the NHS. The Daily Telegraph reported on 21 September that the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, “says he has been contacted by 22 health service trusts which claim their ‘clinical and financial stability’ is being undermined by the costs of the contracts, which the Labour government used extensively to fund public sector projects. The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the trusts in jeopardy include Barts and the London, Oxford Radcliffe, North Bristol, St Helens and Knowsley, and Portsmouth” (www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8780363/NHS-hospitals-crippled-by-PFI-scheme.html). It continued: “There is already evidence that waiting lists for non-urgent operations have begun to rise as hospitals delay treatment to save money. Adding to this are growing fears over the impact of the financial crisis on care this winter.

“Mr Lansley told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Over the last year, we’ve been working to expose the mess Labour left us with, and …

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