Reviews TV

Dispatches: Public Service, Private Profit

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 17 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:402
  1. Trevor Jackson, senior editor (
  1. BMJ

    How much does it cost to change a hospital light switch? If it's a hospital built under the government's private finance initiative (PFI), it could cost as much as £333 (€494; $629), according to Dispatches. The reason? The hospital cannot just call in a local electrician—it has to act in accordance with its contract with the private owner. Such contracts cover every possible maintenance task, however small, and to carry these out the private owner is likely to go through a host of middle men before sending in a contractor. Not surprisingly, the bill mounts. At one privately owned hospital, Darent Valley in Kent, the programme claimed that it cost £200 to hang a mirror and £420 to fit a plug socket.

    None of this sounds like value for money. And according to Dispatches, it gets worse. Reporter Liam Halligan, economics …

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