NHS Admits 17 Trusts Are Mired In Debt

The Department of Health last night named 17 NHS hospital trusts across England which are mired in debts worth hundreds of millions of pounds and cannot survive without a fundamental reorganisation.

David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, said 12 were not creditworthy enough to be lent money from government funds to cover an accumulated deficit at the end of the financial year last month. Five were permitted to take out loans, but acknowledged they could be repaid only over “a very extended timescale”.

His announcement was the first official confirmation of a Guardian inquiry in December which found at least a dozen trusts were technically bankrupt, with no prospect of repaying debts.

The department removed Good Hope hospital in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, from its financial sick list after making arrangements in March for it to be taken over by Heart of England NHS foundation trust, with hospitals in east Birmingham and Solihull. The government hopes similar takeovers can be organised to rescue others on the list of 17, but they may not be suitable in every area and some facilities may have to close.

The 13 trusts that could not afford to repay debts were: Hinchingbrooke Health Care in Huntingdon; Mid Yorkshire; Queen Mary’s, Sidcup, Kent; Royal Cornwall; Royal Wolverhampton; Coventry & Warwickshire; West Middlesex; Weston Area Health, Weston-super-Mare; and three London trusts – Barking, Havering and Redbridge; Bromley; and Queen Elizabeth, Woolwich.

The five that could not repay loans in the foreseeable future were: North Bristol; Royal United hospital, Bath; Surrey and Sussex Healthcare; the Royal West Sussex; and Whipps Cross, London.