Between 1997 and 2010, 103 NHS hospital PFI schemes reached financial close, creating liabilities for the NHS of £77 billion. Three legacy PFI schemes have been signed since 2010 on stricter terms, with liabilities of £1.7 billion, and one scheme has been signed under the new PF2 model, worth £340 million. In nearly all cases, except for a few of the early schemes, ownership of the hospital reverts to the NHS at the end of the PFI contract. But even in those schemes, the NHS always has the first option on whether to end or continue with the contract.
Effectively, those figures will mean even more debt for the next generation. Will the Minister commit the Government to abandoning all PFI? It always was an idiotic scheme. No more PFI, no more PF2, etc—just abandon it, Minister.
The hon. Gentleman has a consistent track record in opposing PFI, even when the vast majority of the schemes were put under contract by the Government of which he was a member—so I will not take any lectures from him about how to deal with PFI. We will continue to use the new stricter terms as and when appropriate.
The National Audit Office concluded that the PFI contract for the Norfolk and Norwich hospital was a bad deal for the taxpayer and for the NHS, yet last year Octagon Healthcare made a record profit as the Norfolk and Norwich’s finances sank ever further into the red. Will the Minister consider making a formal approach to Octagon Healthcare to ask it to forgo part of its profit to help confront the enormous financial black hole that the trust faces?
We have provided access for seven of the worst affected trusts with obligations under PFI to a support fund of some £1.5 billion to help them with those obligations. I am not sure whether Norfolk is one of them; I suspect that it is not. I would be happy to talk to the right hon. Gentleman about this, but rather than raising his hopes inappropriately I have to say to him that many of the schemes are too costly to divert resource to pay them off completely.