NHS CAMPAIGN GROUP’S OPEN LETTER TO WALTHAM FOREST MPs
To: Stella Creasy MP
John Cryer MP
Iain Duncan Smith MP
We, as members of Waltham Forest Save Our NHS, are shocked by the latest CQC report on Whipps Cross Hospital. We call on you, our elected representatives to address the impossible financial position in which Whipps now sits. We ask you to address Barts’ private finance initiative (PFI)and work together to remove this debt burden which threatens the continued existence of our local hospital.
Our much loved hospital has been tragically destabilised; it is a victim of both the destructive effects of the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) and of under-funding. These problems need dealing with at a national level. However, there is one overriding factor behind this crisis which you can help to resolve by working together now: the PFI deals that weigh so heavily on Barts Health Trust (Barts). PFI contributed to Barts’ deficit leaping to £93M in recent months. The PFI costs are unmanageable, unreasonable and growing!
We urge you not to use our NHS for political point-scoring and to work to start resolving the problems that face Waltham Forest’s NHS services. We are confident that other borough residents will wish to join us in this call. Barts is England’s largest hospital trust, has the country’s biggest PFI and its deepest deficit. PFI allows government to keep building costs off its balance sheet and allows business to make profit without risk. None of this is good news for Waltham Forest’s residents.
Barts spends over £2M a week for its PFI deals, an unaffordable amount, far in excess of market rates. Government funding for NHS building projects would have offered much better value. Both Labour and Conservatives have promoted PFI use over the past 20 years. All NHS hospitals are inadequately funded; faced with under-funding, disintegration caused by HSCA and the exorbitant PFI costs, Barts chose to make £58M of cuts last year.
In a vain attempt to save money, Barts management enforced mass redundancies and a demoralising down-banding of staff, which led to the disastrous consequences detailed in the CQC report. Bullying of staff and attempted cost savings resulted in an exodus of experienced skilled staff, low morale, an inability to maintain staffing levels, and a doubling of agency costs, all of which could only have a detrimental impact on patient safety. To add insult to injury, Barts paid millions to private consultants for ‘advice’ rather than listen to its staff.
PFI contracts cause our hospitals to outsource key services even when outsourcing is the more expensive option. Barts Health saved £4M per year by bringing some of the services previously provided under the PFI back in-house. A broader cost-saving exercise must now be implemented, bringing outsourced services in-house across the whole Trust.
East London suffers significant levels of poverty and deprivation, factors that lead to ill health. Funding must be increased and services created that will meet the needs of East London’s growing population. Instead, local health services have been told to make an 11% cut over the next five years. It is clear that services are being sacrificed on the altar of PFI and that PFI costs must be annulled to safeguard the health of the local community. Arguably there is no greater issue affecting the welfare of your constituents. Faced with a perfect storm of HSCA, under-funding and PFI, Barts management cannot see off the PFI problem on its own. As our elected representatives it is incumbent upon each of you to work together to restore NHS services to your constituents, the people who pay not only for the NHS, but for you to properly represent our interests.
We call on you to put aside your political differences and work with Barts and the PFI companies to get rid of the onerous burden of PFI costs. We can then start to restore order at the borough’s much-needed hospital, Whipps Cross and improve health services across Waltham Forest.
Evidently with the general election looming, time is of the essence. We look forward to your response.
Judith De Souza
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