Liveblog: Follow us on an open top bus tour of East London’s PFI

The People vs PFI team on the campaign bus
East London’s Barts Health, the largest NHS Trust in the country, is facing a terrible crisis.

Crippled by an ever-growing deficit, now estimated at £93m, it was put into special measures last month following a damning CQC report.

Local campaigning group People vs Barts PFI blames the 40-year Private Finance Initiative contract the Trust has signed for the construction and maintenance of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

Aiming to raise awareness about the scale of the problem, today they are taking an open top bus round East London stopping by a series of PFI locations.

Click through this link or on the image to follow our live coverage:

 

PFI Liveblog

For more background on the crisis of Barts Health NHS Trust read our interview with local campaigners Helen Mercer and Mary Burnett:
https://pfeyeblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/people-vs-barts-health-pfi-campaigners-on-the-debt-crisis-crippling-the-east-london-trust/

Election promises: what are the politicians saying about PFI?

In the run-up to the election and with the release of the manifestos, let’s have a look at which parties are pledging PFI change, and which have been side-stepping the issue.

Conservative For the party who famously introduced PFI in their 1992 Autumn statement, the Conservatives have been rather quiet.

David Cameron, The Open University, Flickr
David Cameron, The Open University, Flickr

In David Cameron’s interview with Evan Davis on 15th April, the BBC Newsnight presenter pressed him on social issues such as profiteering property developers and PFI.

While David Cameron reportedly made all the right sounds, “totally offensive”, “infuriating”, “maddening,” he did not make any specific promises on PFI – a missed opportunity.

There are no grand plans to combat unruly PFI contracts in the Conservative manifestoIn terms of the NHS at least, Chancellor George Osborne is promising to put an extra £2bn into frontline health services across the UK.

Continue reading Election promises: what are the politicians saying about PFI?

Myatts Field North residents reveal dismal state of new PFI homes

The Myatts Field North estate in Lambeth, South London, before the regeneration process started in May 2012.
The Myatts Field North estate in Lambeth, South London, before the regeneration process started in May 2012. Photo by: Michael Keane / Flickr

Myatts Field North was meant to be one of London’s success stories as far as regeneration projects go. “An outdated housing estate” riddled with crime would be remodeled into a “more open, greener and welcoming environment”, Lambeth council put it in 2012.

The old blocks would be demolished to make way for 808 new residential units, while a further 172 existing houses would be refurbished to a modern standard.

All thanks to a £150m Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract the Lambeth council had entered with a private consortium led by Regenter.

Two years into the construction programme, however, a rather different picture is emerging. Continue reading Myatts Field North residents reveal dismal state of new PFI homes

People vs Barts Health PFI campaigners on the debt crisis crippling the East London trust

The PFI-funded Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London. Barts Health NHS Trust will have to pay over £7bn in construction and maintenance charges over the next 30 years.
The PFI-funded Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London. Barts Health NHS Trust will have to pay over £7bn in construction and maintenance charges over the next 30 years. Credit: Patrick Mackie / The Geograph

Barts Health, the largest NHS Trust in the country, is in the middle of a deepening crisis.

On February 4th it reported that its deficit had swollen to £93 million, more than double the figure quoted just seven months earlier.

Then, in an unexpected twist, the Chief Executive Peter Morris announced his resignation last week after eight years at the helm of the troubled East London trust.

The financial woes of Barts have been a disaster waiting to happen ever since the trust signed up to a £1.1 billion scheme for the redevelopment of the Royal London hospital in 2006.

By the time the state-of-the-art facility in Whitechapel opened its doors six years later the project had left behind a trail of toxic debt.

Continue reading People vs Barts Health PFI campaigners on the debt crisis crippling the East London trust

PFI activism: 8 Twitter accounts on the campaign frontline

Looking for some action? Here are some of the key activists to follow to keep a close eye on PFI schemes.

PFI protest. Source: Flickr
PFI protest. Source: Flickr

1. Alyson Pollack @AlysonPollack is an academic, public health doctor and leading authority on PFI. She supports the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 which aims to return the NHS to its founders’ vision of an accountable public service.

Continue reading PFI activism: 8 Twitter accounts on the campaign frontline

Meet the investment firms that own your PFI-funded public schools and hospitals

Jersey: PFI heaven
The Channel Islands Connection: some of the largest investment firms providing funds for PFI schemes have found refuge in the tax havens of Jersey and Guernsey

 

The use of Private Finance Initiative for the provision of large-scale projects has often brought public bodies on the verge of bankruptcy.

But the public sector’s losses must have been someone else’s gain naturally.

Private equity firms, in particular, invited to provide funds and become stakeholders in the projects, have largely profited from their involvement in PFI.

Continue reading Meet the investment firms that own your PFI-funded public schools and hospitals

Interview with Ashley Seager of IF: “Future generations will pick up the bill for PFI”

A former Economics correspondent for The Guardian, Ashley Seager is the co-founder of Intergenerational Foundation, an independent charity that protects the rights of younger people in policy-making. 

 Drawing on research by Professor David Parker, the UK Government’s official historian on privatisation, Seager tells us why, in his view, PFI is building up an unsustainable debt for future generations.