Jim Eadie: ERI action needed from parliament

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As the PFI-built Edinburgh Royal Infirmary staggers from one health crisis to another, Jim Eadie demands action from parliament

EACH of us expects – quite rightly – to have the very best healthcare. In Edinburgh, we’re particularly lucky with our medical provision, with some of the best doctors, nurses and modern facilities the NHS can offer.

Unfortunately, there are times when great treatment is compromised by poor management – and this is particularly true in the way in which the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is being managed.

The controversial PFI system which was used to build the ERI has now spawned a full-blown scandal. Under the stewardship of Consort Healthcare, the private operator, maintenance standards have dropped through the floor.

The ERI may look glitzy on the outside, but what is happening inside is appalling. Operations conducted by torchlight, incomplete staff checks, flies in operating theatres – this is failure on a grand scale, and should be heavily punished. Thanks to the Evening News, however, we have now learned that the contractor can only be fined a maximum of £28.24 a day for these and other breaches. This is nothing less than disgraceful.

The PFI system used to fund the ERI costs taxpayers £60 million a year, with the bill reaching £1.28 billion by 2028. Yet this paltry fine for dereliction of duty and major negligence amounts to only pennies more than the daily charges for putting four vehicles into the hospital car park.

The PFI model has been a disaster, and this is just the latest crisis. Much of that £1.28bn could have gone into frontline healthcare. Now we learn that it isn’t even being spent on keeping operating theatres powered and clean. This isn’t good enough. So I’m calling on all Lothian MSPs to work with me in getting a debate in the Scottish Parliament so these shocking failures can be properly publicised and debated.

This scandal needs to be exposed to the full glare of public scrutiny. Our NHS – and our taxpayers – deserve no less.

Jim Eadie is the MSP for Edinburgh Southern