OPINION: There is no time to rejoice in Carillion's troubles

Even since before the Queen Alexandra Hospital was redeveloped and reopened in 2009 there were concerns about the deal that had been done to finance it.

Saturday, 13th January 2018, 6:21 am

That private finance initiative (PFI) deal with construction firm Carillion saddled Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT) with more than three decades of crippling debt.

Admittedly many critics thought that it was the repayments that could prove to be the trust’s undoing – at the rate of more than £40m a year for 31 years, those debts have been a heavy load to bear.

However it now seems that Carillion itself is the one facing financial problems. It is reported to be £1.5bn in debt, with its pension fund £580m in the red, continuing to lose money and facing investigations about whether it misled markets about the real weakness of the company.

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There may be a frisson of schadenfreude at seeing this once-giant firm brought low after the way it has extracted money from our hospital.

But the reality is that none of this is good news for QA.

It remains unknown whether Carillion – the second biggest construction firm in the UK with many government contracts, not just hospitals but schools, prisons and more – will enter administration.

There is talk going all the way to the top of government of taking elements of the company back into public control.

There remains a big ‘if’ over whether that will happen, but the one aspect that has to be remembered in all of this are the patients.

Their safety and wellbeing has to be of paramount importance, however this shakes out.

Whatever financial pressures the hospital faces, and there are many even without this, we must remember that it is the patients who need the utmost support.