Headlines: September 9th, 1998

Health services managers are fed up with the continuing delays in issuing guidance on the Private Finance Initiative, says the Institute of Health Services Management.
After an initial flourish when Labour first came into power, it says health ministers have failed to give a convincing lead to senior managers charged with developing a range of highly complex new hospital projects.

Howard Lyons, Chair of the IHSM’s PFI Watch, says: ‘Last summer managers were pleased that, after years of prevarication under the Tories, 14 NHS PFI projects were given the go-ahead and a detailed overhaul of the process was promised. Since then, we have waited patiently for detailed guidance to emerge only to be told by officials that it is still awaiting approval by ministers. The Secretary of State for Health needs to realise that managers need support with these highly complex schemes.’

‘PFI involves a considerable degree of technical knowledge and expertise in commercial negotiations. Most managers have only had experience with one project but they are dealing with consortia that have experience from several different projects. The guidance was promised in order to share those experiences more widely among NHS managers to help streamline the process and get a better deal for the tax-payer.’