Community, labour groups oppose private hospital deal today before health standing committee

News release

Staggering costs of private hospitals in U.K., lack of community input will be highlighted

Today the Hospital Employees’ Union will join with other community and labour groups to oppose private hospital schemes in a presentation to Victoria’s health standing committee at 4:15 p.m. at the Sheraton Guildford in Surrey. HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt, B.C. Old Age Pensioners Organization vice-president Marjorie Mansell, B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair, and other representatives from the B.C. Health Coalition, B.C. Nurses’ Union, CUPE B.C. and BCGEU will speak against a proposed plan to replace the ageing MSA General Hospital in Abbotsford with a privately financed, privately owned and partly privately operated health facility.

The private hospital deal, known as a private finance initiative (PFI), is based on a model developed in Britain by Margaret Thatcher’s right-wing government in the early 1990s.

The astronomical cost of PFIs will be cited during the joint presentation this afternoon. For example, built publicly, the replacement Edinburgh Royal Infirmary would have cost 180 million pounds (C$421 million). But the PFI contract guaranteed the corporate owner $70 million a year for 30 years, for a total replacement cost of $2.1 billion, creating a total additional cost of $1.7 billion.

“Privatization schemes of yesterday pale in comparison to the private finance initiative being considered for the new hospital in Abbotsford,” says Allnutt. “Evidence demonstrates that similar hospital projects in Britain have been plagued with problems including huge cost overruns and diminished patient care services. But they’ve proven to be cash cows for investors.

“This is something all British Columbians should be very concerned about.”