Health Secretary to probe claim nurses wages were downgraded to pay off PFI bills

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to investigate the “totally unacceptable” claim that nurses’ wages were downgraded to pay off PFI bills.

Whipps Cross Hospital in east London is said to have suppressed staff pay in order to make high-interest payments on previously agreed PFI deals.

Local Labour MP Stella Creasy (Walthamstow), speaking in the Commons, called on the Department for Health and Social Care to investigate.

She said: “We all know how much agency nurses are costing the NHS, so too is PFI.

“A billion pounds in profit to these companies that won’t touch any of our hospital budgets, including my own Whipps Cross Hospital which has a 17% agency rate and tried to deal with its PFI debt by downgrading the pay of nurses in order to save money.

“What is the Secretary of State doing to cut the PFI bill for our existing hospitals and prevent hospitals balancing their books off the back of hard-working staff?”

Mr Hunt responded: “She is right to draw attention to that problem. We have certainly stopped doing the kind of disastrous PFI deals with any new deals that lead to the kind of consequences she talks about.

“We have given some relief to a number of hospitals in that area, I will look again at her local hospital because it’s clearly totally unacceptable.”

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