NHS campaigners call for clarity over Midland Metropolitan

Campaigners demand government solution to PFI hospital “fiasco”.

Local health campaign group Keep Our NHS Public Birmingham is demanding that the Government step in immediately with a publicly-funded solution to the crisis around the part-privately funded Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick, due to open later this year and left two-thirds complete by the collapse of building firm Carillion.

This demand echoes the Hospital Trust’s Chief Executive, Toby Lewis, who has expressed his “increasing concerns” about the length of time it is taking to resume building on the hospital.

Mr Lewis told the Health Service Journal that negotiations with The Hospital Company – the “special purpose vehicle” set up to deal with the Private Finance Initiative money – are becoming increasingly complex and that “accounting conventions” are taking precedence over safety and clinical risk.

In other words, the promised local hospital is being further delayed by the complex private finance arrangements that KONP Birmingham criticised in its report The Right Hospital and the Right Size by Dr John Lister published in Summer 2016 with the support of Birmingham Trades Union Council.

KONP Birmingham is now calling for the existing contract to be terminated and the building work restarted using public finance , a possible option identified by Mr Lewis himself. This would then ensure that any company taking on the building work avoids what Dr Lister in his report calls the “questionable assumption of transferred risk”.

A spokesman for Keep our NHS Birmingham said: “PFI/PF2 was supposed to result in a transfer of risk to private sector, but we have ended up picking up the pieces, so we might as well own it outright. We call on all local MPs in Birmingham and Sandwell to demand that the Government brings the Midland Metropolitan Hospital project back under proper public control, with sustainable financing, and let’s get our new local hospital built to provide improved services to the patients of Sandwell and West Birmingham.”