Catastrophic PFI Contracts Threaten Cambridgeshire Health Services

florence_nightingale08:24 Thursday 7th February 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: MPs have delivered their verdict on what has been described as one of the worst reports ever seen within the NHS. “Catastrophic” was a word used to describe the Private Finance Initiative for Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust. The future of two of the county’s hospitals is inow in doubt, although we have heard this morning that Peterborough will not be closed. Stewart Jackson MP for Peterborough has that guarantee from the Health Minister. But regional health bosses and the Labour Government have been blamed for what went wrong here. Earlier, MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson, who called for the investigation by the Public Accounts Committee, had this to say. (TAPE)
STEWART JACKSON: I’ve had a personal guarantee from Secretary of State that Peterborough Hospital will not be closed. It’s not a situation where either of the hospitals are likely to be closed. But there will be some difficult decisions, reconfigurations, and some cuts in clinical services, to keep jobs and clinical care at the Hospital. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: He also went on to say he didn’t think either hospital would close. But he went on to blame other people for what was going on, including the last Labour Government, and said that Andy Burnham, the Health Minister at the time, needs to be called to account. Well we can speak to Ed Murphy. He was the Labour Parliamentary Candidate in Peterborough at the least election. So Labour have to shoulder some blame here Ed, for what they did, and particularly Andy Burnham.
ED MURPHY: The PFI contract was something I opposed at the last election. It was being supported by the Labour Government at the time, who were predicting a growth in expenditure on the NHS. The thing is the public don’t really worry too much about how their health service is run. They worry about if it is there. The new hospital in Peterborough has got less beds than the previous hospital. Only this week a family friend of mine had a stent operation cancelled. 20% cuts in the budget to pay for this PFI. Nearly £40 million a year they’re paying to the company. The Government needs to get real on this one and they need to renegotiate or tear up these PFI contracts, or we will have a hospital closure shortly.
PAUL STAINTON: What a mess! What a mess Labour’s left us in Ed.
ED MURPHY: There’s already a campaign started in Peterborough and Stamford to save the hospital.
PAUL STAINTON: What a mess Labour’s left us in here. What a legacy. We’re going to be paying for this for the rest of our lives.
ED MURPHY: Indeed. This PFI is not affordable. There was a campaign in Peterborough, I was part of it, not to close down PDH, and not to go along this route. We’ve had the Member of Parliament admit earlier on today that he didn’t scrutinise it. Twice Monitor said to the Trust, don’t go ahead with the PFI. Twice they ignored it. Privatisation and marketisation of health in this country is not the way to do it. We’re wasting money on the fees. £40 million a year we’re paying to the PFI companies, rather than spending it on the health of people in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire. And Hinchinbrooke is on target to lose £5 million. A private company running that hospital there who’ve never turned round a profit. That’s in jeopardy too.
PAUL STAINTON: I think people are going to be worried this morning, aren’t they, about their health care? But they’re also going to be worried that nobody, nobody, is being held to account over this. Nobody. The people are just walking away from it. Even Stewart Jackson admitted on the show this morning he should have done more.
ED MURPHY: Indeed. And there’s people coming in, again, the Trust have brought in people to do transformation, they’ve brought in consultants that they’re paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to, to try and turn it round. They can’t turn it round. (UNCLEAR) from their budget is going on the fees for a PFI contract that needs to be torn up, so we can get our health service back.
PAUL STAINTON: But there’s a blame game going on here, isn’t there? MPs blaming the Strategic Health Authority. They’re saying no no no, not us. We reject the Report. MPs blaming Monitor. We’ve not heard from Monitor this morning. We need to get away from the blame game, don’t we?
ED MURPHY: We certainly do. I fear for what’s going to happen in Cambridgeshire, and Peterborough in particular. From 1st April the local council, the Conservative council, will have responsibility for public health. If they’ve got responsibility for public health that’s reducing hospital services by 20%, fears of closure, we are going to be in a real mess.
PAUL STAINTON: Shall we rip it up?
ED MURPHY: Privatisation of those services, the old people’s homes etcetera, isn’t working. In Cambridge they’re building a new residential home. So I think clearly marketisation and privatisation is not the solution to improving our health service.
PAUL STAINTON: So Ed, (TEARING SOUND) we rip up the PFI at Peterborough City Hospital.
ED MURPHY: Well no ..
PAUL STAINTON: Who pays the ferryman?
ED MURPHY: It’s a national problem. Those people that have recently left on a £400,000 payoff from Circle. Those people that were making a fortune out of it. The companies that put together the PFI contracts knew they were always the first to get paid, because they were controlling it.
PAUL STAINTON: Who’s going to end up paying. Is it me? Is it the listener?
ED MURPHY: Hopefully the speculators that were making money out of the PFI fees will take the hit. If need be, the Government needs to ensure that these hospitals remain open, and needs to pay for them.
PAUL STAINTON: And does Andy Burnham need to say sorry at some point?
ED MURPHY: Indeed not. What we need to do now is to get on and ensure that we do have a hospital in Peterborough. You can’t close Peterborough Hospital and have patients having to go to Leicester, to Cambridge. It’s not on.