Patients before cash

I TAKE issue with Tracy Doucét, chair of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who said in the Chad (Chad, 26th September) that their ‘primary responsibility’ is to balance the cost reduction plans that the Trust needs to make, with maintaining high quality care.

What she is saying is that the massive Private Finance Initiative ‘mortgage’ for King’s Mill Hospital takes priority over high-quality patient care. Under PFI, King’s Mill cost £326m to build.

The repayments will cost nearly five times that - £1.6bn over 30 yrs, and private company Skanska will still own the buildings when this is paid in full. The Socialist Party has been warning that cuts to meet PFI costs would undermine patient care and cost the jobs of NHS staff since it came in about six years ago.

It is puzzling that local MPs Sir Alan Meale and Gloria De Piero want answers on this issue – when their party, New Labour, positively embraced PFI when it was in power, and were blind to the warnings about it.

We need a publicly-funded NHS, free of privateers only interested in maximizing their profits. The trade unions should be mobilizing for strike action to defend local services and jobs. And the books of the trust should be opened, so that we can see just how much money has been spent with private companies, and exactly why it is likely to run out of money in January of next year. The Socialist Party is holding a public meeting to discuss the issues around Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust, and how we save the NHS, on Wednesday, 10th October, 7.30pm, at Ladybrook Community Centre. Everyone is welcome.

Karen Seymour,

Mansfield Socialist Party.