Commons health committee probe may offer much-needed perspective

Four private finance initiative schemes bit the dust last week, after several years of negotiation, plunging the trusts concerned - and the communities they serve - back almost to square one in planning for urgently needed new facilities.

Meanwhile, an employment tribunal is examining redundancies at the NHS's first completed PFI hospital, and 600 staff are on strike at another PFI project.

Is the writing on the wall for what has been regarded for years as the only show in town? Do these developments, and others like them, presage a flight back to NHS capital? Unlikely just yet. But they are a reminder that, despite PFI's benefits, it can bring trouble and strife uncomfortably reminiscent of more traditional NHS capital projects down the ages.

A heated atmosphere has always surrounded PFI, with those for and against taking uncompromising positions. These events, together with the Commons health committee's inquiry, ought to add perspective to the debate.