Health group points to QA to show PFI perils

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A HEALTH campaign group has used Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth as an example of how hospitals built under the private finance initiative are closing beds and cutting jobs in a ‘desperate bid’ to balance their books.

Health Emergency said today it had discovered ‘asset-stripping’ sales of land and property as NHS trusts also have to cope with the public spending cuts.

Land is being sold by PFI-built hospitals in London, while a growing number of nursing and other jobs are being cut across the country, including hundreds at the £256m 1,200-bed QA, said the group.

Many other PFI hospitals are facing problems but have yet to announce cuts, claimed Health Emergency. Its information director, Dr John Lister, said: ‘PFI means that hospitals face rising bills each year, regardless of their income.

‘It means that private sector profits are protected by legally-binding contracts taking an increased share of declining trust budgets, while clinical services, patient care and the jobs of NHS staff are sacrificed, in an impossible battle to balance the books as the NHS faces real-terms cuts for the first time in a decade.’

On Saturday The News reported that QA had had a £6m bailout from other local health trusts to balance its books this year.