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. 
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. 
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. 
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.
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). 
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. 
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.  
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?!  
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“. 
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. 
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. 
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!