£900m PFI COLLAPSE!

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‘WE absolutely call for pfi to be abandoned, it is a failed system which is costing the nhs billions,’ a UNISON spokeswoman told News Line yesterday.

Speaking after the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee issued a report saying that the government had handed the £900 million Paddington Health Campus PFI project to local managers who were ‘out of their depth’, she added: ‘NHS managers are skilled in managing hospitals and staff.

‘They stand little chance up against firms of highly paid accountants and consultants. This is not just about bad management.

‘It is about an extremely complicated way of building new hospitals which sees hospital managers pitted against city consultants, lawyers etc, whose prime aim is to make huge profits out of these pfi deals.

‘We think that PFI does not give good value for money.’

The health complex in Paddington, which would have merged St Mary’s, the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, was approved in October 2001, but abandoned after costs rose by £300 million.

Health bosses thought it would be finished by 2006 but projected costs more than doubled and the completion date slipped to 2013.

The North West London Strategic Health Authority withdrew the plans in June 2005, but only after £15 million costs had been run up.

The MPs’ committee found ‘Incompetent local health chiefs caused the collapse’,adding that the Department of Health was also to blame because it was ‘not adequately aware of the state of the Campus scheme’, because it viewed it as a local issue.

Committee chairman, Tory MP Edward Leigh, said: ‘The Department’s hands-off attitude towards large-scale capital investment projects must be abandoned in favour of closer and sustained scrutiny.’

A BMA spokesman said: ‘At a time of spiralling NHS debt it seems madness that money is either being poured into PFI projects or plans are suddenly brought to an end when millions of pounds have already been spent – around £15 million in the case of the Paddington PFI venture.

‘The BMA believes PFI is an expensive way of borrowing money that stores up debts and locks the NHS into potentially outdated service arrangements.’