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Unison members tackle Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over PFI funding for revamp of Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore
7:30pm Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
Union members have warned that PFI funding of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital could have a costly legacy
Union members at a Harrow hospital tackled Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over risks from the private financing of major upgrade work.
The health minister visited the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore today where he worked a front line shift, assisted with portering duties and giving patients their meals.
He then took part in a ‘round table’ meeting with staff, discussing issues including the forthcoming upgrade of the hospital buildings.
Plans were agreed earlier this year for a major revamp of the Brockley Hill site, parts of which date back to the Second World War.
NHS staff in the union Unison warned that plans to use Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangements to pay for the redevelopment could lead to long-term debt.
Gemma Cannon, a neurophysiology technologist and Unison branch secretary, was among staff due to meet Mr Hunt.
Before the meeting, she said: "I want to ask Jeremy Hunt why he is using costly PFI arrangements to carry out the hospital rebuild. Staff and patients have been waiting years for this work, but using PFI will saddle the trust with long-term debt burdens that could mean trouble in the future.
“All the evidence shows that PFI is a bad deal for taxpayers who end up paying over the odds.”
The union claims PFI schemes have caused “massive” financial problems in south London, and are concerned at the possible long-term repercussions for the RNOH, an internationally-known centre for orthopaedic care.
It believes the Government should return to using gilts and bonds to pay for hospital building rather than PFI deals, which it says cost the taxpayer more in interest.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "NHS Trusts are being helped to manage their contracts and identify where savings can be made to reduce the burden of PFI costs. The savings achieved will be available to be reinvested in front-line services.”
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