Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17

AlfRodchenko

Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

6

Just imagine what could buy for that in a time

of supposed austerity. My rough calculations

suggest it would cover the salaries for all the

nurses, all the consultants and all the GPs

needed to serve the NHS for 10 years – and

you would still have billions left over to train

the next generation or two of surgeons, build

80 state of the art hospitals, and treat tens of

thousands of cancer patients for a year.

To put it more simply: it would cover the

entire NHS budget for approximately two

and a half years.

We are constantly told that there is no

money left; that we cannot afford the NHS

as it is currently run, or to fund high quality

public services. Yet there is plenty of money

for the banks and for Private Finance

Initiatives (PFI). And the UK Private Finance

Initiatives (PFI) debt is four times the size of

the budget deficit used to justify austerity. In

other words, austerity is a political choice

rather than a necessity.

Innisfree, a small finance company based

in the City of London, is one of the biggest

players in the Private Finance Initiatives

(PFI) market. One of Innisfree’s flagship

projects is the largest NHS Private Finance

Initiatives (PFI) scheme at St Bartholomew’s

and the Royal London hospitals in London.

This could have been publicly financed for

around £1bn; instead, it will end up costing

£7bn by the time repayments are complete

in 2049. The difference of £6bn will go

to PFI consortium Skanska Innisfree and

partners. To put these figures into a more

digestible format, Barts is paying over £2m

a week in interest, which adds up to over

£120m a year, before they see a single

patient.

Innisfree chief executive David Metter was

paid £8.6m in 2010. It’s no surprise that

a majority of NHS hospitals are now in

deficit with Private Finance Initiatives (PFI)

as a major factor. And you thought your

mortgage was bad. Just imagine if they

could spend that money on patient care.

The majority shareholder in Innisfree is

Coutts, the Queen’s bank. Coutts UK, in

turn, is owned by RBS. RBS thus effectively

has a controlling stake in hospitals,

boosting its profits whilst simultaneously

running public services into the ground.

It is worth recalling that the combined

bail-out and losses of RBS since the crash

amount to £95 billion. This is almost

equivalent to the NHS budget for a whole

year, yet it is still extracting profit out of the

NHS.

SHEEP IN THE ROAD : NUMBER 13

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