HOSPITAL LEAGUE OF FRIENDS — or is the enemy within?

How mysterious!



In shop windows across town are posters advertising a new NHS campaign group.  Yet it’s all rather odd. The posters don’t say who printed them, there are no contact details; no email addresses, no website, no phone numbers, nothing.  [1]

The new group is calling itself “Ludlow Campaign for Fairness”. In its own words, it was “set up to campaign for and foster a fairer society“.







The posters, which were also delivered door-to-door, advertise the first event of the new group.

Promising a “stimulating and motivating” talk on “The Demise of the NHS” – How did we get into this mess and what can we do about it?  With guest speaker Professor Patrick Pietroni.  [2]

What’s not clear about this new group is whether it has anything to do with “Shropshire Defend Our NHS“, a long-running local pressure group.

An oblique mention by the Advertiser’s Adrian Kibbler, fudges that question.  Implying that, on the NHS, the two groups, and the local LibDems, are all supportive of each other, at least ideologically.  Yet with local LibDems still calling for a privatised PFI hospital for Ludlow, that union just doesn’t ring true.



Shropshire Defend Our NHS” was founded by Joyce Brand and Gill George, two veteran campaigners determined to safeguard the NHS, and retain it in public ownership for future generations; both of whom are well-respected former NHS nursing professionals.  [3]

Joyce and Gill have been commendably frank in their campaigning; no hidden agendas; always willing to clarify their position to any who ask.

By contrast, this new “Ludlow Campaign for Fairness” group remains something of an enigma.  Just who is behind it? Why are they so tight-lipped? What is their overall objective?  Any ideas, Mr Kibbler?! Councillor Huffer?!

If the background to their inaugural guest speaker, Patrick Pietroni, is anything to go by, this strangely secretive new group seems to have a very different ethos to Shropshire Defend Our NHS.

PATRICK PIETRONI: NHS sale-and-leasebacks

PATRICK PIETRONI: NHS sale-and-leaseback fixer

A brief google search for Professor Pietroni unearths his long-standing commercial background in NHS “sale-and-leaseback” deals. These notorious schemes are renowned for causing immense financial harm to the NHS.

Pietroni is an unlikely fellow, then, to invite as a guest speaker on “The Demise of the NHS” (and what we can do about it) !




Until late 2005, Pietroni was a director of Primary Health Properties plc(PHP).  [4]



PHP is a real estate investment trust (REIT) which today holds a £1 billion portfolio of healthcare properties.

PHP has acquired hundreds of GP surgeries, health centres, community hospitals, pharmacies, across Britain. Many of which were bought from the NHS at firesale prices through dodgy “sale-and-leaseback” schemes.  NHS privatisations by another name.   [5]

PHP is co-managed today by private equity firm, Nexus Group, and JOHCM, a subsidiary of Hambros.  Hambros is one of the City’s top banking dynasties which funded and “advised” Mussolini‘s corporatist government in Italy. Hambros was also a member of the powerful Rhodes-Milner Round Table Group. [6] [7]

Pietroni’s PHP was founded in 1996 by City wide-boy, Harry Hyman. In 2006 Hyman was cited for political corruption. The Mail-on-Sunday, the BBC and The Guardian all reporting that Hyman had been holding secret “breakfast meetings” with a key NHS policy wonk to Downing Street.



Cherie Booth was also fingered for facilitating those shady meetings. Meetings in which Hyman and PHP lobbied the Blair Government for more NHS “sale-and-leaseback” contracts.   Kerr-ching!

Naturally, both Booth and Downing Street denied any wrongdoing, claiming it was all a “misunderstanding“. Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?! [6] [8]


Fortuitously, Professor Pietroni resigned from PHP shortly before the lobbying scandal blew up publicly.

These notorious “sale-and-leaseback” schemes work as follows:

The NHS sells its own buildings to a commercial property company (called a PropCo) like PHP.  The PropCo then leases those former NHS buildings back to the NHS, which becomes the tenant. Rental terms of 10, 15, 20, or even 30 years are not uncommon. Often with separate, yet equally lucrative contracts for buildings maintenance, e.g. charging the NHS £200 for changing a light-bulb!  The PropCo typically domiciles itself in an offshore haven to avoid corporation tax and financial scrutiny. All very seedy.

In the short term, sale-and-leasebacks appear attractive to cash-strapped NHS trusts. The sale of public buildings releasing welcome capital to spend on front-line services. However, these deals invariably turn sour. The sale-and-leaseback contracts, crafted by the PropCos themselves, are heavily skewed in their favour.  One-sided arrangements allowing the PropCo to impose onerous rent rises, fees and charges. Over the years, crippling the foolish and short-sighted trusts that originally agreed to them.

Little different to the City of London scams known as PFI and PPP, equally rotten forms of privatisation.  Many PFI (“private finance initiative”) deals signed recently are already turning toxic. Poisoned chalices that are bankrupting NHS trusts right across Britain.

The new University Hospital North Staffordshire (UHNS) is a prime example of a PFI hospital going rapidly bust. The hugely over-budget PFI-built Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham is on the same precipice to disaster.  See “The last straw: soar-away costs undermine UHNS PFI scheme“. [9]

PFI FACADE: "the new £27m Ludlow Hospital"

PFI FACADE: “the £27m Ludlow Health Village”

The proposed “Ludlow Health Village” (which thankfully never came to anything) was another dodgy £27 million PFI/NHS privatisation deal. Agreed behind closed doors with the funniest of handshakes, and promoted locally by sleazy Coalition shysters.

The City bankers behind the Ludlow PFI scam were Amber Healthcare, part of the Amber Infrastructure Group, a phoenixed protégé of the Babcock & Brown looting operation. [10]

Parasitic banksters Babcock & Brown who went belly-up in 2009 were legendary for swindling the Ozzy taxpayer in a rash of privatisation scams throughout Australia.  Creaming off billions for their bondholders from piss-poor-value PFI-privatised hospitals, schools, railways and roads, ferry- and air-ports and leisure facilities. Babcock were at the forefront of the obscene PFI feeding-frenzy, Down Under.  Exiting Oz in a cloud of controversy, Babcock were reborn as Amber Infrastructure, re-locating to low-tax Dublin, before turning their cross-hairs to privatisations in Britain.  [11]

Ludlow had a very lucky escape.  Today, we may have a shabby old hospital in desperate need of a makeover. But at least it’s all ours; all bought and paid for. 100% Debt Free.   No thanks to City banker and town MP Philip Dunne, Peter Corfield and other sockpuppets of the City, who (for the murkiest of reasons) were heavily promoting this dreadful NHS privatisation scheme for Ludlow.  With “Hospital Friends” like them, who needs enemies?!

Returning, finally, to “Ludlow Campaign for Fairness”.   Let’s hope there’s at least something noble to this new group; even if the people behind it are strangely reticent to reveal themselves.

And perhaps on October 1st, Professor Pietroni can truly illuminate us. Telling us all about those dodgy NHS sale-and-leaseback deals struck by his company in secret “breakfast meetings” with the wretched Blair Junta!   We can hope!



3 thoughts on “HOSPITAL LEAGUE OF FRIENDS — or is the enemy within?

  1. Dr. Sandy Robertson

    You express understandable wariness about LCF—Ludlow Campaign for Fairness— and the recent talk by Patrick Pietroni. To explain:-
    We are a group of Ludlow citizens, concerned about the state of the country and the apparent impotence or unwillingness of politicians to address crying issues—gross inequality, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, food poverty, the distortion of democracy by corporate power etc. We are politically unaligned. Our aim is to stimulate debate which might lead to action. Our latest meeting was addressed by a speaker from the Scott Bader organization which espouses a business model distinct from either conventional capitalism or socialism.
    Prof. Pietroni’s talk described the progressive erosion of the old NHS with a concomitant loss of morale and compassion. It resonated with all those present who had worked in the Service. He was not proposing any specific political or business model but wanted to introduce us to a charity which would re-introduce the old compassionate values through support and mentoring. Several people from Shropshire, Defend our NHS, were present and saw no contradiction between his approach and theirs.
    I cannot comment on Prof. Pietroni’s previous business affiliations of which I confess I knew nothing. I myself am a member of Keep Our NHS Public, a national campaign with precisely that aim.
    LCF does not yet have a formal structure but I am acting as chairman and we have a small steering group. Sir Michael Day was instrumental in the initial discussions which led to the group’s formation and is still playing an active role.
    In the early spring we will welcome David Marquand, politician and author of Mammon’s Kingdom, also Richard Murphy who is a radical critic of tax policy. Do come.
    And, by the way, who are you?

  2. Marilyn Miller

    There is indeed a gap between Patrick Pietroni’s PR and rhetoric and the reality of his enduring lived values.

    He has recently dumped his wife of 37 years, who brought up his children, and was his life and professional partner. She had just had two coronaries. He refused to discuss it. Had an affair with an old flame and has just installed his first wife into his office/flats paid for by Chester University and/or the Cuba Studies Trust and/or the Compassion Network he is launching globally and raising yet more money for and/or The Elisabeth Bryan Foundation Trust for metering and paying his ex wife amongst others.

    His personal story is very far from compassionate or kind but these are the spinning labels he is using publicly. All of these foundations, trusts and charities and so forth were sun chef since he left his second wife three years ago. He had to climb, build new empires and adopt new labels. The latest is compassion.

    He has a long track record of leaving projects behind (BHMA, Yoga etc) as he always travels so fast one can never keep up with him

  3. Marsh richards

    It is radically dawning on me that drs (once respected in the communities) are as dumb and devious as the mps, civil serpents, nhs hospital managers and local councillors they lie in their flea ridden beds with. Just concentrate on getting people better, stop having affairs with big Phama and realise socialism has never worked, Marxism is as dangerous as corporatism and communism is the same as faciasm ! …..I hate isms and have little respect for anything what begins with “national”


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