- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
In a damning report, the Treasury select committee says that with the yield on government bonds at near-record lows, using a PFI deal for a new infrastructure project could end up costing up to 1.7 times as much as paying for it directly out of the public purse.
Andrew Tyrie, the committee’s Conservative chairman, urged the chancellor to call an immediate review, and bring the costs of all previous projects on to the Treasury’s balance sheet.
The independent office for budget responsibility recently estimated that the total liability from the capital costs of PFI projects alone was about £40bn, which would increase Britain’s debt-to-GDP ratio by almost 3%.
The PFI was first announced by Norman Lamont in 1992, but the complex deals proliferated at Gordon Brown’s Treasury. Private sector providers agree to build and run schools, hospitals and other infrastructure projects, typically over 30 years, in exchange for a stream of payments from the public purse.
But Tyrie said that instead of transferring risk to the private sector and cutting costs for the taxpayer, PFI had fooled the public – and Whitehall officials – into thinking they could get shiny new public services “on the never-never”.
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said in response to official figures published today revealing that the number of people who waited over 18 weeks for NHS treatment increased by over 9,000 between June 2010 and June this year – up by a third:
“Compared with last year, a third more patients are waiting longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment and the situation is getting worse by the month. With the figures also showing a doubling since May 2010 in the number of patients waiting over a year for treatment, it is clear that people can’t trust David Cameron to keep his NHS promises.
“The NHS is starting to go backwards again under the Tories. Instead of concentrating efforts on improving services for patients, Ministers have spent a wasted year forcing through their reckless and damaging NHS reorganisation.”
The NHS Future Forum is to conduct a second stage of its listening exercise following a request by the government to assess its revised proposals.
It will focus on how to use information to improve public health, education and training for healthcare workers, integrating care and the public’s health.
The announcement has been applauded by The King’s Fund, which said it would provide an opportunity to further examine some of the government’s proposals.
UNISON, the UK’s largest union, today accused Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley of selective hearing over his response to the NHS Future Forum’s (FF) recommendations.
“Far from implementing the core recommendations on competition, the Health Secretary is just ignoring the parts that he doesn’t wants to hear”, warned Christina McAnea, UNISON’s Head of Health.
The NHS Future Forum announced today it is continuing its listening exercise, but the union is calling on the Government not to just listen, but to take action over fears raised by NHS staff, patients, health unions and the public.
Christina McAnea, went on to say:
“The Future Forum said that Monitor should not be an economic regulator and its primary concern should be the quality of patient care. Andrew Lansley has not adopted this recommendation and Monitor’s main objective is to enforce competition law paving the way for privatisation.
“The Forum also recommended that the Bill should include reference to promoting collaboration and co-operation in the NHS that is still sadly missing from the Bill. The NHS benefits hugely from open sharing of ideas and innovations adopting a ‘commercial confidentiality’ approach will be a major step backwards for patients.”