Intended for healthcare professionals


Private finance, public risk

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 02 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1450
  1. Ham Chris
  1. Director Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2RT

    Can public sector values survive Britain's private finance initiative?

    Budget day brought an announcement of funding for the NHS in the coming year. More importantly, it also confirmed the British government's commitment to use private finance to pay for capital projects. After a slow start the private finance initiative seems to be gaining momentum across the public sector. In the case of the NHS, a number of major schemes are under development and private finance is increasingly replacing Treasury funding as the preferred method of raising money for new hospital developments. This is illustrated by projects in Norwich, Swindon, Leeds, Bishop Auckland, and Edinburgh, which are at an advanced stage of negotiation.

    Government spokespeople cite these examples as evidence of the success of the private finance initiative and of the benefits that accrue from public-private partnerships. With pounds sterling2bn of private finance initiatives in the pipeline, including 25 schemes each to the value of pounds sterling25m or more, it would indeed seem that the initiative is beginning to bear fruit. Whereas originally …

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