The Health Secretary’s decision (April 2) to write off £13.4 billion of NHS hospitals’ debts is now being put into effect – and the figures involved have been announced.
Great Western Hospitals’ outstanding debt of £61,895,000 – on which interest has been paid up to now – will be written off. This includes £1,422,000 of debts accruing from capital spending on developing the hospital.
GWH has the fifth highest debt in the south-west region – behind Bristol North (highest at £172,171,000), University Plymouth, Gloucestershire and Yeovil District hospital trusts.
The announcement stated: “More than 100 NHS hospitals to be rid of historic debt, freeing them up to invest in maintaining vital services and longer-term infrastructure improvements.”
“This [write off] will not create additional borrowing or fiscal cost for the Exchequer.”
The two NHS hospital trusts with the highest debts in England were King’s College London (£735 million) and Cambridge University Hospitals (£340 million).
The debts are the result of long-term underfunding and a funding system that did not pay hospitals for all the work they were required to do. Staffing shortages and subsequent use of agency staff were a significant part of the debts.