A future Scottish Labour government will “boot out” private finance (PFI) contracts from the NHS, the party’s leader has pledged.
Richard Leonard made the promise amid controversy surrounding the collapse of Carillion, a private company which carried out thousands of government contracts.
The liquidation of the firm has plunged many public sector building projects into doubt and many small businesses who carried out sub-contracts for the company are facing financial problems.
The Labour MSP, who was appointed leader in November, said companies using the NHS for profit was an “anathema” and he wants to see the practice ended “as quickly as possible”.
During a visit to Dundee, Leonard said his party will carry out a review of public sector contracts and lodge proposals which would see NHS car parking charges abolished across the country.
He said: “I say this in all candour, some of the big PFI hospital projects were built when Labour was last in power in Scotland.
“And I think we need to start by looking first of all at those PFI projects which frankly are coming towards the end of their 25 year or in some cases 30 year lifespan and look at how we can end those with more immediate effect.
“Secondly my priority is to look at the operation of PFI contracts in the NHS as a priority. I think the exercise or the profit motive in the NHS is an anathema and I want to see that ended as quickly as possible.”
He added: “Now I’m not going to undertake to buy out to the full value all of those deals because there are too many of them, the value is too great and it would stop us doing all the other things that we want to do.
“It was Nye Bevan who said that the religion of socialism is the language of priorities and I would invoke Nye Bevan to say one of the areas where I would want to see as a priority PFI booted out is in the national health service.
“And if that leads to the withdrawal of car parking fees then I’m quite happy with that as a consequence.”