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PFI debts impact patient care

12th June 2007

A BMA chair has told BBC Radio 4 that long-term hospitals debts under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) are impacting "clinical priorities."

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Dr Jonathan Fielden, chair of the BMA's consultants' committee, said that he was concerned that NHS Trusts owe huge sums to contractors under the terms of the PFI and that they are finding it difficult to make repayments on a long-term basis.

As an example, he presented the case of University Hospital Coventry. The Trust found it necessary to borrow money in order to finance their initial repayment of £54m to its private contractor under the terms of the PFI contract. This meant that the Trust has had difficulty finding the money in advance of the hospital's opening.

Dr Fielden said: "They do have a fabulous new facility there but...[their] payments means that because the amount of money coming in...is now less than predicted...they are mothballing services, closing wards and not running all their theatres that they could do."

He also said that because of their debt, it meant that neighbouring hospitals faced a lack of funds. He warned that some managers did not have a long-term view of PFI deals and ended up with contracts that were "poor value" for their Trusts.

The Department of Health said they had no ministers available to talk to BBC Radio 4's File on 4 about this issue.

 

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