Debt-ridden Havering hospital trust in line for share of £1.5bn bailout

18:00 03 February 2012

Queen

Queen's Hospital

Archant

The borough’s hospital trust could get a share of a £1.5billion government bailout after being identified as one of seven in the country most in need of help.

Part of the money is earmarked to relieve financial pressures at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which has a debt of around £150million.

The trust will need to meet four “key tests” before receiving funding from a pot of up to £1.5billion over 25 years.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said some parts of the NHS had been left with a “dismal legacy” of private finance initiative (PFI) schemes from Labour, which left them struggling with huge debts.

Queen’s Hospital, in Rom Valeey Way, Romford, is run under a PFI scheme.

The trust also runs King George Hospital, Goodmayes, which will have its A&E and labour ward closed under plans approved by Mr Lansley.

In December, the Commons Public Accounts Committee said four out of five NHS trusts are struggling to become foundation trusts due to financial problems.

The four key tests for trusts are:

• The problems they face should be exceptional and beyond those faced by other organisations.

• They must be able to show that the problems they face are historic and that they have a clear plan to manage their resources in the future.

• They must show that they are delivering high levels of annual productivity savings.

• They must deliver clinically viable, high quality services, including delivering low waiting times and other performance measures.

Mr Lansley said he was determined to end the practice of giving NHS trusts cash “on the quiet”.

He added: “We have already signalled that we are determined to end these backroom deals by bringing greater transparency and openness to the process.

“We need to balance the accountability of the NHS at local level to live within its means on one hand, with recognising that there is a legacy of debt for some trusts with PFI schemes.

“And we need to be certain that those NHS trusts that face historic financial problems are not taking their eye off the most important issue of all - maintaining and improving their frontline patient care.”

The only other London hospital trust identified for help is South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

A BHRUT spokesman said: “It’s very positive news that the financial challenges of PFIs have been recognised and we look forward to hearing further information.”

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