Queen Alexandra Hospital

The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth staff face being axed
Hospitals built under the Private Finance Initiative are closing beds and cutting jobs to balance their books, a campaign group claimed yesterday.

Health Emergency said it had also discovered "asset stripping" sales of land and property by NHS Trusts to help them meet the Government's public spending cuts.

Land is being sold by PFI-built hospitals in London and a growing number of nursing and other jobs are being axed.

hey include hundreds of posts at the £256million 1,200-bed Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, the campaign group said.

Other hospitals are also facing financial problems but they have yet to announce any cuts, claimed Health Emergency.

The group's information director, Dr John Lister, said: "PFI means that hospitals face rising bills each year, regardless of their income.

"It means private sector profits are protected by legally binding contracts, taking an increased share of declining Trust budgets, while clinical services, patient care and the jobs of NHS staff are sacrificed in an impossible battle to balance the books.

"Isn't it significant that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill is seeking to break up almost every structure in our NHS, claiming to make the system more efficient, but leaving PFI intact and instead opening even more ways for the private sector to rip off the taxpayer and undermine the public services?

"The Tories appeared opportunistically critical of their own PFI policy when Labour was implementing it, but they are now happy to see this growing haemorrhage of cash from the NHS."

A survey of more than 2,000 adults by the public service union Unison said that three out of four people were opposed to having private companies running parts of the NHS Blood and Transplant Service. Dave Prentis, the general secretary of the public sector union Unison, said: "The public have said a very resounding 'no' to blood money.

"The Blood and Transplant Service is an inspirational service, with millions of people willing to give their blood freely.

"Letting private companies move in breaks that link and taints the whole service with the profit motive.

"There are also very real dangers to the safety of the blood supply if the smooth path from donors to patients is broken."

Doctors and nurses are furious after most NHS trusts refused to pay overtime on Royal Wedding day, which is a Bank Holiday, to save cash.

All NHS staff will get extra pay in Scotland, but bosses in England and Wales have been allowed to stick to contracts allowing for the usual eight public holidays a year.

While some staff will get a day off in lieu, 53 out of 64 trusts contacted are treating April 29 as a normal day, saving up to £44,000 in wages.