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Date: Weds 28 June 2006

PFI finances skew clinical decisions in Lanarkshire - UNISON

UNISON, the main health service union in Lanarkshire today argued that the existence of PFI-funded acute hospitals in Lanarkshire had made the down-grading of Monklands Hospital's service inevitable when NHS Lanarkshire met yesterday to decide future health service provision in Lanarkshire. The union also called for further consultation on information provided to the Board the day before the decision was due.

UNISON Lanarkshire Health Branch Chairperson Lilian Macer said: "Lanarkshire is on the verge of becoming the PFI capital of Scotland. The people of Lanarkshire are being asked to take out hugely expensive mortgages to build basic NHS infrastructure for the future. And because payments to PFI contractors are guaranteed, a choice between Hairmyres, Wishaw and Monklands was always going to target Monklands unfairly. The private sector will continue to profit from the provision of public services to which the taxpayers of Lanarkshire have a basic right. The privatisation agenda ill serves the NHS or the people who rely on its essential services."

UNISON called for further information tabled to the Board yesterday to be released to the public, with a further period of public, staff, and political consultation before key decisions are referred to the Scottish Executive for final determination over the summer. The papers were produced to review the impact of NHSLanarkshire's Picture of Health on deprivation, cost, access, and staffing implications. The union said that this was an example of the kind of democratic accountability that needed to be introduced into the Health Service.

Mary Samson, Branch Secretary said: "If the Board are convinced of their plans they should not fear another round of public consultation to convince the people of Lanarkshire. The people of Lanarkshire need to be able to have their say on services which belong to them, and know their families can rely on them for generations to come."

UNISON said it still had major concerns at the lack of consultant-led critical/intensive care at the Monklands site, and transport plans for staff, patients and visitors. However the union welcomed assurances given to staff on job security and retraining, whilst noting that there was no detailed budget earmarked for any staff training and development plan.

The union further called for future capital projects to be financed from public funds. John Gallacher, UNISON's Regional Organiser said "There is £100 million capital investment for primary care premises; £172 million at Hairmyres, and additional capital investment at Wishaw and Monklands. NHSL is already facing stringent financial efficiency measures because of the two expensive PFI contracts at Wishaw and Hairmyres. We need future capital investments to be funded through public as opposed to private capital, and jobs and services in the NHS family should be kept in the NHS and not privatised."


For Further Information Please Contact: Lilian Macer (Branch Chair) 07986 255 956 (m) Mary Sampson (Branch Secretary) 01698 276291(o) John Gallacher (Regional Organiser) 07904 342 426 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)