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BBC: NHS 'mortgage' is £65.1bn

The BBC claims to have uncovered new figures which show that the NHS in England's total bill for new hospitals and mental health units built under the private finance initiative (PFI) currently stands at £65.1bn.

The report claims that the projects were only worth £11.3bn when they were built, though the inflated repayment figure is influenced by added extra costs including catering, maintenance and cleaning.


The PFI arrangement sees private firms funding and erecting the new buildings, leaving the NHS with what is effectively a 30-year or so mortgage. The amount which needs to be paid back between now and the deadline, 2048, also apparently rises year-on-year – from the current figure of £1.25bn to over £2.3bn in 2030.

[quote top=Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund health think-tank, explained to the BBC:]It is a bit like taking out a pretty big mortgage in the expectation your income is going to rise, but the NHS is facing a period where that is not going to happen.


Money is being squeezed and the size of the repayments will make it harder for some to make the savings it needs to. I don't see why the NHS can't go back to its lenders to renegotiate the deals, just as we would with our own mortgages.[/quote]


A Department of Health spokesperson justified the policy by saying: "All trusts, not just those with PFI contracts, will need to deliver significant efficiencies over the coming years in order to meet rapidly rising demands while protecting front-line services.

"One of the benefits of PFI is that the buildings are always contractually required to be kept in good condition. Good maintenance will always cost more than not maintaining facilities to a high standard."