It was New Labour that created this PFI mess.
Our council leader states that “we will do everything we can to save our hospitals for our community” (Star, August 30) while conveniently ignoring the fact that it was her party, New Labour, that created the mess in the first place by building the hospitals with private finance.
A merger between St Helens, Knowsley and Warrington might not be the worst-case scenario if it can deliver an improved service.
If the people of St Helens and Knowsley think that our hospitals are under pressure with a PFI annual shortfall of £20 million, spare a thought for the new Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield which opened in 2010.
It allegedly cost £320 million to build and faces an annual bill of £35 million for 35 years – total repayment, £1.225 billion.
Furthermore, part of the debt has been sold off its share of the debt to a Guernsey-based company which now manages to avoid the vast majority of tax on the annual £2.4 million profit that it makes from the Pinderfields PFI contract.
To add insult to injury, management consultants have been brought in to deal with the dire financial situation and have pocketed a total of £2.2 million, which would have funded more that 50 nurses’ wages.
It is unacceptable to have a National Health Service that is free at the point of delivery, but cannot deliver effective treatment due to vital money being siphoned off for private profit.
To pay for this disastrous PFI policy that New Labour forced on the NHS, scores of staff at Pinderfields are losing their jobs, while others are being downgraded and given pay cuts – with nurses forced to do cleaning!
We are now told that “Labour politicians and unions will fiercely oppose any proposals to solve an NHS funding crisis by merging Whiston and St Helens hospitals with neighbouring Warrington”.
I ask them where they were in the 13 years when these debts were mounting, and all warnings were ignored?
Mike Perry, Prescot Road, St Helens