Crisis-hit hospital trust defends PFI cost
An indebted hospital trust has defended the millions it spends on private finance initiative (PFI) by arguing that three million patients across east London are better off as a result of improved services.
It was revealed last week that Barts Health, which runs Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, and the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust (BHRUT), in charge of King George Hospital in Goodmayes, collectively spent £190m of their income on high-interest payments to private companies in 2013/14.
Both trusts are considered the most indebted in London and both are placed in “special measures”, with Whipps Cross rated overall as “inadequate” and King George told it “requires improvement” by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
In 2013/14, Barts spent £137.6m, or 10 per cent, of its £1.2bn budget on PFI and has spent almost £70m on PFI finance charges this year.
The trust’s debt has grown steadily since it signed up to the £1.1bn scheme in 2006 to redevelop both Bart’s Cancer and Heart Centre and the Royal London Hospital.
Its deficit is forecasted to reach £93m by the end of 2015.
As the biggest health trust in England, Barts employs over 14,000 staff and has told the Guardian, jobs will not be on the line as a result of PFI.
A Barts spokeswoman, said: “The trust has no plans to make cuts to staffing or services to patients.
“We are already strengthening key areas across the organisation, helped by the targeted support we’re receiving as part of the special measures regime.
“This includes the recruitment of more permanent staff, including 500 permanent nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, and improving operational performance to strengthen our financial position.
“The PFI has enabled us to improve facilities and the care we provide to almost three million people in east London.
“The annual financing charge on this investment in the most modern medical facilities for patients is 5.2 per cent of our total turnover.
“As the biggest NHS Trust in the country, Barts Health is a large and complex healthcare organisation and we are committed to ensuring that local people receive safe and high-quality care now and into the future.”
Since the beginning of the year, the trust has lost its finance director, chief nurse, chief executive and its chairman.
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