The QA and the disaster of Labour's PFI scheme.
I have long campaigned for the QA to renegotiate its PFI. When I was elected I ran a national campaign with Jesse Norman MP called "No to PFI." It was an attempt to ensure the disaster of Labour's PFI scheme was not repeated, that lessons were learnt, and we could enable public services saddled with PFI debt or poor services to get out of that hole.
We managed to get Treasury agreement and support for school and hospitals to renegotiate their contracts. The National Audit office devised four ways this could be done, including just cutting what was being paid back, through to enabling the "soft services" of the contract e.g. Parking, catering, maintenance etc, to be renegotiated. We won from Treasury 2 assurances: that if the QA saved any money as well as improved services it could keep it, as opposed to being sucked back into the Treasury or the wider NHS, and that help to renegotiate was available to the QA to do the work via the PFI renegotiate team. These assurances were important to incentivise hospitals and schools to do so.
I had several meetings with the QA and the management team thought the most fruitful thing they should do would be to renegotiate those soft services. They thought their could be a saving in maintenance, and we could get better services. However the QA did not commence this work, and despite me pushing it for several years has not pursued it.
The situation is further complicated as many schools and hospitals, including the QA hospital have sold on the debt.
I still would support a radical overhaul of the QA's PFI, but the new hospital management team have a good plan in place to improve things and I think we need to support them in that rather than give them something else to do. Our focus should be two-fold- the QAs finances and the quality of services. Just putting off balance sheet debt back on the balance sheet won't sort that. We should focus on the services and there are still things the QA can do it improve those. For example, the parking exemptions are poorly promoted- I have suggested they are printed on the back of every appointment letter.
I will continue to work closely with the QA and will support any initiative they think will improve the care they give and the patient experience.
Penny Mordaunt MP.