Examination of Witnesses (Questions 960
THURSDAY 6 DECEMBER 2001
960. That is why I said you can put it in writing.
(Mr Campbell Davis) You saved the best one until last.
961. It is because you have put those interesting
things in here and we do not want to miss out on them. Do feel
free to answer in writing.
(Mr Campbell Davis) Would it be helpful in that case
if I give you just a few headlines and then write to you about
962. Yes please.
(Mr Campbell Davis) First of all, on the issue of
flexibility, although the health service has always tried to do
so, it is perhaps fair to say that we have not always over the
years got it right in our planning of hospital development. So
with PFI, as one mechanism, we are now trying to do that with
the private sector. It is also true that the private sector is
learning some of those skills for the first time. The difference
this time is that they are being written into typically 30 year
contracts, whereas in the past, building hospitals ourselves,
the consequence of getting it wrong was not given the same degree
of consideration and was downstream and usually somebody else's
problem. It will now be the problem of the parties to the contract,
the private sector, so much more focus goes into that. A lot of
work has developed over the lifetime of PFI and, indeed, since
you mentioned the Future Hospital Network and the Confederation,
we are now doing what I think is really some seminal work, looking
ten or 20 years ahead, to do with the way that the NHSwith
the emphasis on the word servicewill change, and trying
to work backwards to what the physical design of hospitals should
be. People like Professor Ara Darzi at St Marys of Londonwho
I think Dr Taylor may know from the Kidderminster reviewhave
been doing interesting work on whether hospitals will exist, for
example, with medicine and surgery continuing alongside one another,
or emergency and elective work, in the future in the way they
have done in the past. The answers are complex and cannot be stated
simply, but I do think as that work develops over the next couple
of years we should have something that we can tell and sell to
the public about what their local health service will look like.
Hopefully it will take some of the difficulties out of the debate
about local access to high quality services, if we get 4 right.
You asked about risk transfer, and perhaps that is something we
might write to you on and give examples where we think it has
worked or not. Finally, you asked for a single side of A4, and
I was pleased to hear my colleague, Mr Catton, mention that at
least PFI might be simple, but then compare it with something
less complex. Of course, it is very difficult for any of us to
describe in a paragraph or two how it works! We have got to do
so, because until we are able to tell people that PFI is just
another financing mechanism, with these qualities and these benefits,
and these risks, I think there will continue to be scepticism
and fear. I think we are closer to doing that now and, although
I will not attempt to do it in front of you, I think I can probably
have a stab at it now in a way that I could not have done a year
963. We are grateful. I am concerned to finish
soon because there is a health statement in the Commons which
colleagues want to get to.
(Mr Catton) One point which is particularly of concern
to us at the moment is the pressure on clinical budgets in some
PFI sites. We have written to you on Hexham, Edinburgh is another
one as well which is causing us some concern at the moment.
Chairman: Do any of my colleagues have any further
questions? If not, can I thank you for your co-operation. Mr Campbell
Davis, you will send us some follow up information. I am not sure
if I can wish you a Happy New Year, Mr Roy, or not, we do not
know where you will be. We wish you well and we are grateful for