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Scottish fears over PFI

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 01 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1220
  1. Bryan Christie, journalist
  1. Edinburgh

    Few ideas can be more assured to work the press into a lather than the notion of taxpayers' hard earned money being used to swell the coffers of rich private conglomerates. And so it has proved to be with the issue of the private finance initiative (PFI)—a scheme introduced by the Conservative government and adopted by the present Labour administration, which involves private companies building hospitals and schools and then leasing them back to the state over a 20 or 30 year period. The buildings may never revert to public ownership, prompting the Scottish National Party (SNP) to dub PFI “Privatisation For Infinity.” It has become one of the most fiercely fought over issues in the election for the first Scottish parliament for 300 years, generating many column inches in the newspapers over the past few weeks.

    The Scottish press has variously described the private finance initiative as “the only practical means of providing patients and staff with first class treatment facilities”; “a poor deal for taxpayers, who will pay huge …

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