Excellent Guardian article about PFIs and a potential solution

Deborah Orr’s well written article (Weekend Guardian – 30.06.12.) exposes all the iniquities of the flawed PFI process which has lumbered the NHS with enormous capital debts. She rightly points out that politicians of all parties have at one time or another supported this devious bit of legislation. However Deborah, along with all the parliamentarians before her, has failed to look at how our forebears addressed the problem of funding capital developments within the community.

Before 1948 the vast majority of hospitals were funded by charity or local taxpayers. It took successive governments time to realise that in the process of confiscating that hospital infrastructure it was duty bound to maintain it and improve its facilities as the great and the good had done so before the inception of the NHS.

After 1948 hospital building projects were funded by government grants. These were rarely freebees and had to be “paid back” out of the hospital’s capital allocation.

Today, Foundation Hospitals have to raise the money for capital developments from their past and future forecasts of profitability and/or the lip-smacking market profiteers. Those who choose the PFI route may benefit from first class infrastructure for their patients and staff but at the price of having to reduce unprofitable aspects of healthcare such as A&E.

Those who choose to use operating profits to fund major building projects find themselves only able to address clinical priorities with short-term shoddy compromises, whilst devoting the bulk of their http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/prednisone/ investment on eye-catching profit generating projects.

In our haste to go with the flow we have forgotten the meaning of charity.

Just over 100 years ago the great and the good in Colchester saw the need for the local voluntary hospital (founded in 1819) to separate children from adult inpatients. Free space on the site was not available to build a children’s ward so they demolished an existing private ward, on the premise that this facility was not an asset, because private patients were charged at cost and therefore the service generated no profit.

The money required to build this children’s ward was raised by local donations and the whole project was completed and opened by Royalty within one year.

This was the epitome of charity.

There were no loans or greedy bankers waiting to make a quick buck at the expense of the indigent population.

The Barts and London Hospital PFI debt of £1.2bn, could easily be wiped clean off the slate if the rich city bankers were to give (not lend) that sum from their obscenely inflated earnings. Such an act would rebrand charity and set a precedent to local populations moaning about the lack of services because their “own” hospital was in hock to the PFI profiteers.

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!”

It is time to set a precedent.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/29/deborah-orr-pfi-disaster-  lesson

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