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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
PFI 'backed by patients'
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was built with PFI money
Patients and NHS staff strongly support the government's controversial policy of using the private sector to build new hospitals, a survey suggests.

The survey of 26 hospital managers who are involved in private finance initiative (PFI) schemes found the vast majority had received positive feedback.

Almost nine out of 10 managers said the response from the public had been positive while seven out of 10 reported similar reactions from NHS staff.


The public and private sectors have worked together to deliver successfully 26 new hospitals for the NHS

Alpesh Patel,
Ernst & Young
The survey, carried out by consultants Ernst & Young, showed that while hospital managers are happy with PFI they believe parts of the scheme should be improved.

Overall, nine out of 10 of those questioned said their facilities had been completed on time by the private companies contracted to carry out the work.

Most also said that they had a very good working relationship with the PFI provider.

Improved contracts

However, the survey found that trusts fail to share information on PFI. Hospital managers also said that the process remains complicated and protracted.

In addition, they said more could be done to ensure the NHS got value for money.

Experts at Ernst & Young, which advises the public and private sectors on PFI, said the findings showed there was scope to tighten PFI contracts.

Alpesh Patel of Ernst & Young said: "The survey reveals that although PFI has been a difficult process, the public and private sectors have worked together to deliver successfully 26 new hospitals for the NHS.

"The challenge is to create more flexible and efficient partnership structures embracing equitable and robust performance regimes and relationships which meet the evolving healthcare agenda of the 21st century."

The government is strongly behind PFI. Ministers believe it is the only way of delivering the new schools and hospitals they have promised.

However, unions and grassroots Labour Party members strongly oppose it saying it is bad value for money and is an expensive way of building the extra facilities.

They also suggest the government is storing up debt for future generations.

Delegates at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool earlier in October backed a motion calling on ministers to launch an independent review of the scheme.

However, Prime Minister Tony Blair made it clear in his speech to the conference that the policy will continue to be a cornerstone of government policy.

See also:

11 Oct 02 | Politics
01 Oct 02 | Business
30 Sep 02 | Business
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