Written evidence submitted by Edward Milner |
I am an ordinary member of the general public, a
pensioner aged 69, a science graduate previously working as a
BBC TV producer and then as an independent TV and video producer.
My wife is an experienced Practice Nurse working in the NHS for
As a scientist I have always been impressed by the
"evidence-based" approach of the NHS towards health
policy, and to some extent and in some areas by education policy.
However this approach seems to have been completely abandoned
when it comes to funding. I have read a good deal about PFI and
projects in both health and education fields. It seems that not
only is there no positive evidence on which the whole idea of
PFI was started (by the Labour Government), but no serious analysis
(to inform policy) of the PFI experience up to now. My impression
is that if the evidence was used, the entire idea would be abandoned;
clearly PFI is a bad deal for the public and a means of benefitting
small numbers of influential people either with profits, or in
the case of politicians, the opportunity for patronage. The test
for politicians at local and Government level would seem to me
to be as follows:
Would you countenance a PFI scheme if it was your
own money involved?
Two factors seem to me to militate against even the
best possible PFI schemes:
1. Raising loans must be cheaper for Governments
than commercial companies; by turning over schemes such as building
a new hospital to the private sector inevitably means that the
loans involved will be more expensive, and costs of the project
much higher; I believe this has already been demonstrated in several
2. With shareholders and other private investors
involved (and expecting profits), how can such schemes possibly
be good value for money? On the other hand, if they are profitable
wouldn't such profits be better accruing to the public purse?