PFI Deals ‘Wasting Millions Of Pounds’

Expensive PFI deals have been branded a waste of money as patients are being denied treatments. Plaid Cymru yesterday said it will cost Wales more than £100m to pay for a new hospital which cost just £14m to build.

Owen John Thomas, AM for South Wales Central, said PFI deals, like that for St David’s Hospital, in Cardiff, were a ‘scandalous’ waste of money when patients are having to take out loans to pay for treatment privately. He said the St David’s PFI deal, which will be repaid over 30 years, has already cost Wales more than £11m.

Mr Thomas’s comments come after it emerged that former soldier Bindon Galvin, from Penarth, has taken out a £7,500 loan to pay for brachytherapy treatment for prostate cancer because the NHS refuses to fund it.

Finance Minister Sue Essex yesterday suggested the Assembly Government was flexible on the role of private finance initiatives as she faced questions in the chamber about why there had been fewer PFI projects in Wales than in England under Labour.

Ms Essex said PFI had been used to build roads, schools and hospitals, but she was happy to look at ‘other mechanisms rather than PFI if it doesn’t fit the proposal’. She said: “I hope we have got it right under our system so that we have been much more open, much more not locked-in to any particular mode, but trying to make sure we have got the best way of borrowing private-sector money with the best outcome for the public sector.”

Plaid Cymru AM Alun Ffred Jones asked: “What advantage is there in borrowing money in the private sector at higher interest rates than the public sector can borrow the funding, and therefore increase the payment?”