Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Save our hospital - watch the PFI Costs

Part of the financial burden which may be contributing to the threat to the West Cumberland Hospital is the cost of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme at Carlisle. The new hospital in Carlisle actually cost £67 million to build but over the next 30 years the NHS will have to pay £600 million in interest and running costs. This information comes from the government answers to parliamentary questions tabled by the shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley MP.

I must stress that I am not against the principle of using private finance to help fund public projects. Both this government and the last one have done it. But whoever is in power must try to make sure that the taxpayer gets good value for money. We need an audit of PFI schemes to see whether they are providing facilities in the most cost-effective way. An essential part of the campaign to defend hospital services at the West Cumberland Hospital, Millom Community Hospital, Keswick Hospital, and all the other threatened hospitals in Cumbria must be to use money wisely.

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