Skip to main content

P3 deals are "millstones" says Health Minister

The growing crisis of public private partnership (P3) hospitals in Britain has now forced the health minister to announce that he will be sending in “hit squads” to make savings at twelve hospitals where the P3 contracts have gone “horribly wrong” the conservative Daily Telegraph reports.

This is a follow up from the government's February announcement that seven health care trusts with P3 (or, as the British call them, "PFI") hospitals would get £1.5 billion in emergency funding to help them avoid cutting patient services as a result of their P3 deals.
The Health Minister Simon Burns told the Press Association, "there are these seven which are at the top of the scale, which are having a significant drag on their day-to-day running because of the PFI costs. The trusts have got significant problems as a result of these irresponsible PFI schemes that the last Labour government allowed, and we have said, with those, that if they have a regime in place that ensures that the other financial running of the trust, with regard to the provision of healthcare, is either sound or there are realistic measures to ensure they become sound, then we will be prepared to financially help them, solely with the burden of the PFI repayments, because it is a millstone round their neck."
The government "hit squads" will move into 7 health care trusts that run 12 hospitals. The hospitals provide care for more than 2 million people. South London Healthcare Trust has already been taken over by a government management team as a result of its rotten P3 deal. 
The squads will be made up of top government lawyers and accountants.  They will try to renegotiate contracts.  But the health minister has also said he would not walk away from the contracts as that could leave the health service facing years of litigation, so it is not clear how much they can achieve.  
Last year, the government announced that more than 60 hospitals, run by 20 trusts, were facing financial difficulty because of PFI schemes. The Telegraph notes that "the decision to send in hit squads to the most troubled trusts underlines the growing concerns at the highest levels of government that patient care may soon start to suffer."

The health minister, Simon Burns 
says that the P3 deals show a “cavalier disregard” for taxpayers’ money, noting cases where the P3 deals require hospitals to pay £242 (about $387) for a padlock to be changed or £466 ($746) for a new light fitting. The minister also complained about the complexity of the P3 deals: “The problem is some of these contracts are 2,000 pages long and realistically I suspect very few people have looked through them and been able to identify all the implications and potentials to make sure they are getting a good deal”.
The Conservative government has often blamed the former Labour government for bad P3 deals and is reviewing the use of P3s. But the CEO of one of the largest P3 corporations, Carillion, has told the Construction News he doesn't expect a lot to change.  
The British P3 industry was a model for P3s in Ontario and British companies (such as Carillion) play an important role in the Ontario P3 industry.  Ontario also went through a phony reinvention of P3s when the Liberals replaced the Progressive Conservatives -- little more than the date of public ownership of the facilities and the name changed.


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…