Lib Dems say NHS faces £63bn PFI bill

The NHS is facing a £63bn bill for private finance initiative (PFI) hospitals which are only worth £11bn, according to Liberal Democrat analysis of Treasury figures.

Mr Lamb: The PFI payments reveal the amount of debt that the NHS is heading for
Mr Lamb: The PFI payments reveal the amount of debt that the NHS is heading for

The analysis finds that the first payments for hospital PFIs began in 1999 and the NHS still owes £58 billion on 106 PFI contracts over the next three decades.

The Lib Dems say that the NHS will have to pay back £7.3bn in PFI payments over the next Parliament alone, 2010-15.

The most expensive PFI contract was for Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, where the NHS will pay back 16 times the original capital value.

Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem shadow health secretary, said: ‘These figures reveal the disastrous reality of Labour's stewardship of the NHS. We're entering into one of the most difficult financial periods in the NHS's history and this government's legacy will be a mountain of debt.'

A DoH spokesman said: ‘The cost to the public sector of undertaking long term capital investment has always been spread over a number of years - PFI is no different. All PFI schemes must demonstrate that they are good value for money and affordable when compared with the public funding alternative.

'Thanks to PFI, we have been able to undertake the biggest hospital building programme in the history of the NHS, opening the 100th scheme in October 2008 - two years before our NHS Plan deadline of 2010. The long-term benefits for patients of PFI are also clear - Norfolk and Norwich Trust have estimated it is treating 23,000 more patients each year as a result of moving to new PFI premises.

'PFI payments involve not just the basic construction cost but also building maintenance and often support services such as cleaning, catering, and portering over the life of the contract.'

Chris Whitehouse, chairman of the LIFT Council, said: ‘The release of these figures should not detract from the alternative initiatives, such as LIFT (Local Improvement Financial Trusts), that have successfully ensured private sector involvement in the development of primary healthcare infrastructure, and which can serve as vehicles of regeneration following the general election.

‘The structure of the LIFT initiative means that a partnership can be formed between the private sector and PCTs that is not exclusive to a single project - meaning that their objectives and successes are closely linked.  This helps considerably with the development of a strong strategic direction, with the involvement of a range of partners able to deliver capital and expertise to the development and ongoing management of the public sector estate, and is why the LIFT initiative has been so favourably received by the health teams of the three main political parties.

‘These figures should highlight the need for the public and private sector alike to support other solutions, such as LIFT, in order to maintain the provision of primary care facilities and provide the best possible value for money.'

 

 

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