West of England Mayor Tim Bowles has welcomed the announcement that NHS Trusts in the West of England will benefit from a £253,151 debt write-off as part of the government’s announcement to scrap £13.4bn of NHS debt across England.
North Bristol NHS Trust will see £171,171 written off, Weston Area Health Trust will have £57,582 written off and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust will have £23,398 written off to free them up to invest in maintaining vital services and longer-term infrastructure improvements.
This debt write-off will rid more than a hundred NHS hospitals across England of historic debt and comes alongside a new NHS funding model to make sure the NHS has the necessary funding and support to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes will provide much needed financial support during this unprecedented viral pandemic, as well as laying secure foundations for the longer-term commitments set out last year to support the NHS to become more financially sustainable.
This is part of a package of major reforms to the NHS financial system, designed in a collaboration between the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, which will begin from the start of the new financial year.
Trusts across the South West will see a total of £825,562 of debt written off thanks to this move.
This package is launched in combination with a simpler internal payment system to help NHS trusts in dealing with the coronavirus response, which was agreed with NHS England last week.
This significant change will mean hospitals will get all the necessary funding to carry out their emergency response, despite many hospitals cancelling or limiting their usual services such as elective surgery or walk-in clinics due to the virus.
The Government continues to support and protect the NHS throughout the coronavirus outbreak, by:
- Ensuring the NHS has any extra resources it needs to tackle the virus, including access to a £5bn Covid-19 Response Fund.
- Increasing the capacity of the NHS, with new, temporary NHS Nightingale Hospitals including one at the University of the West of England in South Gloucestershire.
- Providing free carparking for NHS workers at hospitals.
- Bringing recently retired doctors and nurses back into the NHS to help bolster our fight against coronavirus.
Tim Bowles said: “This is a very welcome move from the Government as it means that the West of England’s NHS Trusts can concentrate on saving lives in the fight against Covid-19 and maintaining vital services rather than servicing old debts.
“Writing off more than a quarter of a million pounds of debt will help reset the finances for the West of England’s NHS hospitals, mental health and community services that are on the front-line of tackling the pandemic and put them on a stable footing for the future, when we have won this fight.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “As we tackle this crisis, nobody in our health service should be distracted by their hospital’s past finances.
“This £13.4bn debt write off will wipe the slate clean and allow NHS hospitals to plan for the future and invest in vital services.
“I remain committed to providing the NHS with whatever it needs to tackle coronavirus, and the changes to the funding model will give the NHS immediate financial certainty to plan and deliver their emergency response.”