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Users' views could help decide PPP firms' fees

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CUSTOMER SATISFACTION surveys should help decide how much contractors on privately financed hospitals and schools should be paid, former health secretary Alan Milburn said last week.

Patients and parents should be asked to score contractors' performance on public private partnership (PPP) contracts, he said.

At present PPP contractors are paid according to whether buildings are available for use and on the provision of services like security or catering.

Milburn resigned as health secretary a year ago, but still serves as a Labour MP and maintains an active interest in the NHS.

He expressed his views as Labour attempts to position itself as the champion of patient and parent choice in public service provision ahead of the next election.

'Users' views about performance could form a growing proportion of scores given to local services in the league tables and performance measures central government publishes, ' Milburn told a conference organised by the PPP Forum.

'And this reform should apply to PFI delivered services just as much as it applies to other forms of public service delivery, ' he said.

'Indeed the views of users could be used to reward or penalise PPP service providers through the payment mechanism.'

He expressed his views as Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians called for greater transparency about the workings of PPP deals.

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