Local hospitals look set to benefit from new £1.5 billion PFI fund to shore up ailing finances
James Brokenshire has welcomed news that the South London Healthcare NHS Trust could qualify for significant additional cash to ease the burden of expensive hospital PFI contracts. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced that the Trust - which runs the Queen Elizabeth, Princess Royal and Queen Mary’s Hospitals - has been listed as one of seven NHS organisations which potentially qualify for significant additional national support.
The new £1.5 billion fund is being made available to hospitals where crippling PFI debts are potentially putting future services at risk. The additional money will be made available to SLHT provided it can show that it has a clear plan to manage its resources; is delivering high levels of annual productivity savings; and is providing high quality clinical services.
The national support would be spread over the lifetime of hospital PFI contracts which can run for as long as 25 years. The Department of Health estimate that South London’s PFI bill for 2012/13 alone is £66.8 million. Other trusts which have been identified as being potentially eligible for the subsidy include Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust as well as Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust which runs Darent Valley Hospital.
Commenting, James Brokenshire said:
“This is an extremely important step as it seeks to address the gaping hole in local NHS finances caused by the crippling PFI contracts signed up under the last Government. It’s been evident for some time that the PFI debt burden on our local hospitals simply wasn’t sustainable. I welcome the fact that the Department of Health is addressing this stark problem and ear-marking significant additional support for our local hospitals.
“NHS executives now need to finalise their plans in the knowledge that national funds could be called upon to underpin local health services. This includes approving proposals to secure the future of Queen Mary’s Hospital. This announcement also underlines why ‘worst case’, disaster scenarios were just that and shouldn’t be the focus of our attention.”