Letter: Costs of the PFI

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The former chief executive of Oxford's Radcliffe Infirmary deplores the greater cost of borrowing money for building new hospitals when private sector companies, rather than the Government, are the borrowers (letter, 19 July).

This is not the only drawback of the Private Finance Initiative. The companies who build and run a hospital on behalf of the NHS are obliged to make the profits of shareholders their priority. This demands a rapid turnover of patients.

It is difficult to see how this can be reconciled with the medical teaching and research for which Oxford is internationally renowned. A business strategy which depends on "fast throughout" should not be allowed to dictate the length of patients' stay, particularly when this is linked to the training role of university hospitals

Dr M I HEATLEY

Oxford

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