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Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Thursday, 22 September 2011 10:41 UK

NHS Trusts 'at risk' from PFI costs

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The government has warned that some NHS trusts in England are at risk because of the rising cost of repaying Public Finance Initiatives.

Under PFIs, private companies built new hospitals, with Trusts repaying them over 30 years. It is thought the schemes could cost the NHS £20bn more than if PFI had not been used.

The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, told Today presenter John Humphrys that he blamed Labour for signing off the deals, adding: "I have one objective which is to enable the NHS to succeed and to improve in the future.

"We can only do that if we're very clear about some of the problems the NHS faces and where they've come from, and the truth is that we have inherited not only as a country an enormous legacy of debt from the last Labour government but in the NHS we've got an enormous legacy of debt likewise. Not just PFI debt but often hospitals that are carrying substantial debts."

But John Appleby, who runs the NHS think tank the King's Fund, said not all trusts that used PFI were struggling.

"I think it is true that in certain cases certain hospitals will find that their PFI repayments are quite high now, where prices for their services are being held down in real terms and they're under pressure from their PCTs to not admit so many patients," he explained.

"On the other hand there are some hospitals with PFI schemes which are perfectly healthy financially and there are others without PFI schemes who are in some difficulty, so it's clearly not the sole problem."


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