Leader: ‘PFI deal one of worst deals ever struck’

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By the year 2028, NHS Lothian will have paid out £1.28 billion to Consort Healthcare for the maintenance and running of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. That’s £60 million annually of taxpayers’ money.

At the end of that period, as we have known from the start, we won’t even own the building.

On the face of it, this PFI deal – agreed in 1998 – has to be one of the worst deals ever struck on behalf of the general public.

What makes it worse is the repeated failures by Consort that have hampered the running of the ERI over the last 18 months.

Surgery completed by torchlight after a power outage, flies found in sterile operating suites and incomplete checks on staff are just a few of the problems highlighted by the Evening News.

It has now emerged that under the terms of the deal, Consort is liable to pay just £28.24 a day when its negligence causes an operating theatre to close for more than four hours.

NHS Lothian does have other avenues to pursue Consort.

But the basic agreement that daily failures are treated so lightly is astonishing.

What real motivation is there for Consort staff to go the extra mile if there is no genuine level of financial penalty?

When Nicola Sturgeon was Health Secretary she publicly criticised Consort for its actions, telling the company to “get its act together”.

Her successor Alex Neil should ensure that he too applies as much pressure on the company as possible.

The people of the Lothians who depend on this hospital, and the hard working health staff within it, are counting it.

Edinburgh legend

Sometimes fate can play a strange hand when it comes to who is remembered by future generations and who is 
forgotten.

It is an oversight of history that former Hibs manager, treasurer, secretary and physiotherapist Dan McMichael is largely unknown today.

He was the boss when Hibs beat Celtic to win the Scottish Cup in 1902 and lifted the league championship the following year.

He is also the club’s longest serving manager, with an incredible 18 years’ service. Yet, his body is buried in an unmarked grave just a stone’s throw from Easter Road.

It is great to see today’s supporters celebrating McMichael’s story. He is a true Edinburgh legend – and undoubtedly a contender in our search for Edinburgh’s 100 greatest heroes.