Letter: Private-build NHS

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I was pleased to see you giving publicity to the adverse report by the National Audit Office on the use of the Private Finance Initiative for hospital building ("Row over privately built NHS hospital", 19 May).

We are constantly being reassured by government that PFI is only used if it is shown to be more cost-effective than traditional funding but, as this report confirms, the figures used are highly suspect. The claimed non-financial benefit, that building with PFI is quicker, is meaningless. The Treasury itself decides on the rate of release of funds for a public sector project.

Thanks to the election campaign for their parliament and the interest shown by their press, the people of Scotland are now well aware of the fallacies of PFI. It is however a problem in the whole of the NHS and people throughout the UK need to know the facts, the most serious one being the major reduction in hospital beds which these schemes involve. Despite government claims, the reductions are far in excess of anything justified by changes in medical practice.

PETER FISHER

President

National Health Service Consultants' Association

Great Bourton, Oxfordshire

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