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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Nurses highlight PFI pitfalls
Staff and patients must be involved in the planning of NHS hospitals funded via private finance, nurses have demanded.

At the Royal College of Nursing┐s annual congress in Harrogate, nurses working in existing private finance initiative (PFI) hospitals listed blunders associated with schemes that have already got off the ground.

Staff are more likely to leave and find a hospital more conducive to health care

Valerie Fletcher
These included clinical waste going uncollected, and a hospital where the patients had TVs and telephones by the bed, but there was no space for the nurses to move around.

The solution, they said, was to ensure the people who would be using the hospital - the nurses and the patients - were involved from the outset in its planning.

Pete Wilson, an RCN steward for the Amersham branch said there had been a series of problems at the flagship Wycombe Hospital in High Wycombe, built in 2000.

He told the RCN: "My trust was a flagship for PFI. I think the Mary Rose was a flagship too."

But he said: "Clinical waste had nowhere to be stored. And no-one knew who should remove it." The problem took weeks to fix.

No space

In the bathrooms, there was not enough space for hoists to lift patients into the bath, so the hospital had to buy another batch of hoists which did fit.

He added: "As a building, it was a great office block, but not much of a hospital."

Valerie Fletcher, a nurse from Newcastle-upon-Tyne said of a PFI in her area: "There are TVs and telephones by the beds - which patients have to pay for - but space around the beds is limited."

She warned: "Staff are more likely to leave and find a hospital more conducive to health care.

"If architects consulted a nurse, or worked on the ward with her, they would not end up with egg on their faces."

Tracy McFall, a member of the RCN Council: "PFI is a potential financial ticking time-bomb."

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Health
Nurses step up pay demands
22 Apr 02 | Health
Dead patients left on trolleys
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