Inquiry into Hereford County Hospital contract called for as MP Jesse Norman brands PFI a "catastrophe" (From Hereford Times)
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Inquiry into Hereford County Hospital contract called for as MP Jesse Norman brands PFI a "catastrophe"
8:36am Tuesday 10th December 2013 in News
Jesse Norman branded PFI the “greatest catastrophe in infrastructure procurement over the past 20 years"
THE case for a “full and public” inquiry into the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract that got Hereford County Hospital built has been pressed at Parliament.
Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman intervened in a high-profile Government statement on infrastructure to highlight concerns about safety and maintenance standards under the contract – as reported by the Hereford Times.
Mr Norman has already written to the Health and Safety Executive, calling for an investigation into conduct of the PFI contractors.
Approved in 1999, Hereford County Hospital was one of the earliest PFI projects. It was built and is currently owned and managed under a 30-year contract through a special purpose company, Mercia, which is owned by Semperian and Sodexo. Mr Norman went public with documents with papers and documents describing the deteriorating relationship between Wye Valley NHS Trust and its PFI partners over the exercise of contractual responsibilities and related legal wrangling.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Norman called PFI the “greatest catastrophe in infrastructure procurement over the past 20 years". Highlighting the issuers at Hereford County Hospital, Mr Norman urged Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, not to repeat the mistakes of PFI in the next round of spending.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Norman said: “I have been campaigning for a better deal on the PFI contract at Hereford County Hospital since before my election in 2010. The campaign originally grew out of local anger at the PFI contractor's parking charges, but it has escalated recently to major concerns about fire safety, and about the maintenance of equipment relating to the operating theatres and maternity.
I am pressing for an early, thorough and public examination of these apparent failings.” ”
The full text of Mr Norman’s intervention at parliament is follows: Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) (Con): The greatest catastrophe in infrastructure procurement over the past 20 years was the private finance initiative under Labour. My investigations this week have shown a pattern of poor construction and inadequate maintenance at Hereford hospital on the part of the PFI contractors, and that relates to fire compartmentation, hospital ventilation, infection control, the emergency alarm system and maternity. That has been damaging to patient and staff safety and give no incentive within the contracts to save money. Will my right hon. Friend reassure the House that the evils of PFI under Labour will never be repeated in this new round of investments and that the apparently systematic pattern of delaying and thwarting necessary remedial actions will never be part of the plans that he has laid before the House?
Danny Alexander: My hon. Friend has played a very important role in scrutinising and making public many of the most appalling features of PFI under the previous regime, and I congratulate him on that work. As he will know, a few months back, we announced the new private finance 2 model, which strips out an awful lot of the things that he is concerned about. We are also engaged in a detailed cost review of PFI projects to try to make sure that, where we can, we reduce cost pressures, as we did successfully with the Romford hospital PFI.
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