The Prime Minister has declined a chance to praise Hands Off HRI campaigners.
But Theresa May did reference Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals’ PFI debt woes as a chance to score political points.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mrs May was asked by Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney if she would ensure the campaign to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was listened to.
Mr McCartney said: “My local CCG is planning to downgrade A&E at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and move it to Halifax.
“This is being dictated by a disastrous PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deal.
“I have been fighting these appalling plans alongside the community campaign group Hands Off HRI, led by Karl Deitch.
“Will the Prime Minister join me in praising the campaigners led by Karl and does she agree with me that patients should not be suffering as a result of these catastrophic PFI deals signed by the last Labour government.
“And will she ensure that communities like mine have their voices listened to properly?”
Mrs May said Mr McCartney had raised the issue with her previously and said he had put his case to health ministers “very persuasively.”
But she did not respond to the invitation to praise Hands Off HRI campaigners, instead opting to join the attack on the PFI deal – which has been blamed for Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals being unable to pay their debts.
She claimed: “PFI deals are costing the NHS more than £1bn every year.”
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was filmed in the House of Commons nodding in agreement.
The PFI debt incurred on building Calderdale Royal Hospital is reportedly costing hospital chiefs £22m a year – a stunning £773m over the 60 year period on a building which was supposed to only cost £34m to build.
It would cost £200m to buy out the deal half way through the term.
The debt was inherited when Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was merged with Calderdale Royal in April 2001.
In August 2001 the consortium that built the hospital, admitted that costs had already tripled to £103m.
In 2015, then Halifax MP, Linda Riordan, told the Examiner there was no other way to build the hospital at the time, after years of NHS neglect in the 1980s and early 90s – a period of Conservative government.
The idea to use PFI to build Calderdale Royal was first mooted in 1994, before Labour came to power in 1997.
The deal itself was signed in 1998 by Health Minister Alan Milburn but in 1999, Ken Clarke, former Chancellor in John Major’s Conservative government, was quoted in the House of Commons taking credit for launching the huge hospital building programme, saying it was “entirely the result of flow through” from the previous government.