Jobs Going At QA in Portsmouth?

Hospitals built under the private finance initiative (PFI) are closing beds and cutting jobs in a "desperate bid" to balance their books, a campaign group claimed today.

Health Emergency said it had also discovered "asset stripping" sales of land and property as NHS Trusts also have to cope with the current round of public spending cuts.

Land is being sold by PFI-built hospitals in London, while a growing number of nursing and other jobs are being cut across the country, including hundreds at the new £256 million 1,200 bed Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, said the group.

Many other PFI hospitals are facing financial problems but have yet to announce cuts, claimed Health Emergency.

Its information director, Dr John Lister, said:

"PFI means that hospitals face rising bills each year, regardless of their income.

"It also means that private sector profits are protected by legally binding contracts taking an increased share of declining Trust budgets, while clinical services, patient care and the jobs of NHS staff are sacrificed, in an impossible battle to balance the books as the NHS faces real-terms cuts for the first time in a decade.

"Isn't it significant that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's massive and controversial Health and Social Care Bill is seeking to break up almost every structure in our NHS, claiming to make the system more efficient, but leaving PFI intact, and instead opening even more ways for the private sector to rip off the taxpayer and undermine public services?

"The Tories appeared opportunistically critical of their own PFI policy when Labour was implementing it, but are now happy to see this growing haemorrhage of cash from the NHS."

Meanwhile a survey of over 2,000 adults by Unison showed that three out of four were opposed to any move to have private companies running parts of the NHS Blood and Transplant Service.

General secretary Dave Prentis said:

 "The public have said a very resounding no to blood money. The blood and transplant service is an inspirational service with millions of people willing to give their blood freely with no money exchanging hands

"Letting private companies move in breaks that link and taints the whole service with the profit motive. There are also very real dangers to the safety of the blood supply if the smooth path from donors to patients is broken."

A Department of Health spokesman said:

"The Government is clear that every penny available must go on frontline care.

"The NHS must continue to find savings in big and small ways and that includes in PFI contracts. Every penny saved is a penny extra to improve the quality of patient care."

A Department of Health spokesman said:

"The government is clear that every penny available must go on frontline care.

"The NHS must continue to find savings in big and small ways and that includes in PFI contracts. Every penny saved is a penny extra to improve the quality of patient care."

The spokesman said a review of the blood service was under way to explore how further savings could be made, including continuing to outsource some activities.

"NHS Blood and Transplant will remain in the public sector - there are no plans to sell off any part of the blood service.

"We are not considering any functions that could risk destabilising the current national donor system.

"We have a wonderful system of altruistic donation of blood, tissues and organs in this country.

"We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those who donate freely for the benefit of others."

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