ON behalf of the ordinary people of the UK who care about and rely upon the NHS I would like to convey in an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health our profound concerns over the handling of projects to build new hospitals in this country over the past 20 years.

The lease back NPD method of building hospitals in Scotland under the ‘Scottish Futures Trust’ and the PFI model used in the rest of the UK are a national scandal.

These agreements deprive the NHS of massive amounts of money, which could be used instead for front line patient care.

Let me give you one example. A local NHS hospital was leasing an MRI scanner. That scanner belonged to the NHS at one time.

Leasing this scanner cost the local NHS trust £2.5m annually. The scanner had a book value of just £850,000.

When a local newspaper editor heard of this from me – he and the local round table decided to raise the money to buy the scanner back.

Big business is not to be thwarted by a few well intentioned local people. The NHS trust moved the goal posts.

Two new scanners were ordered and installed in two locations about ten miles apart. The funds raised were eventually donated to pay for the leases on the first few months of these two new scanners.

Too many former MPs and too many former top civil servants end up working as ‘consultants’ for these PFI firms when they leave the House of Commons and leave the civil service.

If 40 new hospitals are to be built on this lease back model – all I can say is – god help the NHS and the ordinary taxpayers of this country.

Councillor Nigel Boddy, Darlington.