9 February 2010 | Helen Gilbert
The UK NHS is facing a £63 billion bill for private finance initiative (PFI) hospitals whose capital value is only £11 billion, according to the Liberal Democrats.
Findings by the party show that the health service still owes £58 billion on 106 PFI contracts over the next three decades after the first payments began in 1999. It also says the NHS will have to pay back £7.3 billion in PFI payments over the next parliament alone (2010-15).
The party said the most expensive PFI contract was for Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, where the NHS will pay back 16 times the original capital value.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said the PFI costs do not just cover construction. They take in building maintenance and often support services including cleaning, catering, and porter services over the life of the contract.
She added: “All PFI schemes must demonstrate that they are good value for money and are affordable when compared with the public funding alternative.”
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “These figures reveal the disastrous reality of Labour’s stewardship of the NHS.
“Despite the enormous amounts of money we owe for these hospitals, many of them will never end up in public ownership. Hospitals all over the country are mortgaged to the hilt and there are serious concerns that these repayments will lead to cuts in vital services.”