Saturday, October 28, 2006

Private Finance Initiatives

The government has announced six private finance initiatives (PFI) worth £1.5 billion to build new NHS facilities. I assume (!)tax payers money will be used to build these facilities to be handed over, I suspect, to private health companies. Surprise there, eh?

Up to 10 hospitals across England have either closed or had their services slashed. Local trusts are still trying to balance their books, apparently. Then build some new ones. Not revamp what already exists. Probably in the wrong locations to benefit private health insurance.

A&E units could also be closed at some hospitals, but it remains unclear if these are at other hospitals from the 10 already mentioned.

Andy Burnham (health minister) says state-of-the-art facilities for 100,000s of patients across the country will be provided. Private patients?

The announcement was made only two months after it emerged that trusts in England ran up deficits of almost £1.3 billion last year. This despite record funding for the health service.

Or allowed to run up deficits?

How can that be reconciled?

It was described "ironic" by doctors' leaders that details of closures and cuts emerged on the same day as the government's latest PFI announcement.

And separately (Jonathan Fielden, deputy chairman of the BMA's consultants' committee), "there are better and cheaper ways to finance improvements. The future of these hospitals is being mortgaged while private providers make profits from the NHS. We are seeing NHS facilities mothballed and closed, and dedicated staff being made redundant at a time when private companies are profiting from PFI deals and poorly performing independent sector treatment centres."

The NHS will repay the firms that build the hospitals over 25 to 30 years in these PFI deals.

"PFI schemes are expensive, inflexible and are adding to the current financial burdens of many hospital trusts. Time and time again PFI companies milk these projects through overcharging and lucrative refinancing deals. These new hospital schemes could and should be paid for by much cheaper public sector borrowing."

No. No. No. Make it cost more to the taxpayer and make it more and more unattractive. There will, ultimately, be less and less opposition to getting rid of the NHS.

All this manipulation is well thought through by this "incompetent" government. Such is the illusion. So much "magic" is underway.

To get state-of-the-art facilities costs an awful lot of money. Who does it cost? The tax payer, of course. Ask yourself this: how long, if ever, will we benefit? The decision is made and construction is approved and started. Before it is completed there will be cost overruns. Remember the Dome? The escalating costs will inevitably call for closing down the NHS. What would become of it? Sell it off at a loss to private business, of course.

Pre-emptive asset stripping?

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich (technically insolvent last year) was paying £9 million a year more for its PFI than if it had signed a traditional publicly-financed contract.

Despite the criticism, Mr Burnham stressed that more than £10 billion had been spent on new hospitals - since 1997. A total of 76 schemes had been completed: 58 PFI and 18 publicly funded. With a further 30 under construction. How are these funded? I imagine these are PFI schemes too. Seems they will be more lucrative - eventually.

Comments backed by the Confederation of British Industry. This organisation argues that the PFI scheme is the way forward. Well, they have the interests of the construction industry in mind.

Rather like the ABI (Association of British Insurers) has the interest of the insurance industry in mind. The businesses, yes. The customers, NO, NO, NO. Just a shop window to help 'sell' insurance to 'the people'.

Consider this:

If this happens, I ask if it would be tantamount to fraud.

It would be, wouldn't it?

Just asking.

But consider the private householder situation. Any debts run up are held against you for life. All this crap about declaring youself bankcrupt. In the very short term debts may appear to 'disappear' though see what sort of problems you encounter in the future when trying to raise money. The very wealthy perform all sorts of tricks to save money. Odd lot. Unless they get everything done for 'free', it costs a large fortune to save a smaller one. Like buying in bulk at discount when you only want one or two units. Perhaps you can store the 'bulk', but probably you would spend a large amount of money to save a little, but still spend a large amount of money. Perverse logic, but very effective marketing as people fall for it all the time. Sellers never 'give' anything away. It may look like a generous saving. It never is.

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