An Edinburgh Evening News ‘exclusive’ on 21 July 2010 says its investigation has found that the NHS will have to pay a total of £1.26 billion for the privately built Edinburgh Royal Infirmary - and still not own it. Clearly this investigation has taken a whole seven years because in August 2003, a UNISON Scotland briefing said the Consort PFI consortium was “earmarked to receive a cumulative £1.26 billion.... Consort will also benefit by inheriting the whole hospital building when the contract eventually expires.”
Even earlier in February 1999, UNISON Scotland’s ‘Serving Scotland’ manifesto warned that PFI was “A bit like paying off a 30 year mortgage and the building society keeping your house!”
A mere 11 years later, UNISON Lothian Health Branch Chair Tam Waterson was forced to repeat this. “Can you imagine taking a mortgage out, making huge monthly payments, and then finding at the end you don’t own the place?”, he told the News.
According to the newspaper report, “The revelation has prompted fury from unions and politicians, who said it made a mockery of an agreement that was already a bad deal for the taxpayer.”
Flashback again to 1999, when Kirsten Hey - then Assistant Secretary of UNISON’s RIE NHS Trust Branch and now holding the same post in the City of Edinburgh Branch - said, “we know now that the use of PFI rather than conventional funding will cost £6m a year more. This would.... treat 3,000 extra in-patients or 15,600 extra day cases!
“This is not be the best way to spend taxpayers money.”
As SiU went to press Tam and Kirsten were planing a letter to the newspaper - resisting (or perhaps not) a big ‘we told you so’.
See the 1999 UNISON manifesto at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/minifest1.html and the 2003 briefing at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/pfiaug03.html
See also http://stevensonsrepository.blogspot.com/1998/07/schools-private-finance-illusion.html