New hospitals could strain NHS finances4th June 2009
Doctors fear that hospital building projects could put NHS finances in serious peril in the coming years.
With new hospitals in England predominantly funded through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), the British Medical Association is warning that repayments could cripple the NHS at a time when the budget is set to be squeezed because of the recession.
More than 100 PFI hospitals have been built, with another 20 scheduled for construction, but estimates suggest that over the next three decades, such projects will cost the NHS £50 billion.
Doctors are concerned that the government will use public funds for the additional 20 and have urged ministers to axe the new projects.
BMA member Anne Thorpe, who is a senior hospital doctor at West Middlesex Hospital, said: "The fact that we are facing these repayments is bad enough and is going to be a drain on resources that could be going on patient care.
"But to think that we might now be using public money to prop-up these deals seems ludicrous.
"It is going to be a hard few years in regards to funding and using public money to support private firms in this way makes no sense. It must not happen."
Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund health think tank, said caution was needed over PFI schemes with the appetite for schemes “waning.”
The Treasury has indicated that only schemes that prove to be efficient will be funded and that future PFI hospital schemes would have to provide "excellent value for money."
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Title: New hospitals could strain NHS finances
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 11633
Date Added: 4th Jun 2009