Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting EJ NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
County hospitals 'are not in danger of going bankrupt'
HEALTH chiefs say county hospitals are not at risk of bankruptcy despite a Parliamentary report warning of the dangers posed by the Government’s NHS overhaul.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in a report yesterday that the Department of Health was “inventing rules and processes on the hoof” to deal with hospital trusts in financial trouble.
Ministers were unable to provide the committee with reassurance that financial problems will not damage the quality of care at a time when the service is already struggling to find £20 billion worth of cuts and implement the reform programme, said PAC chair Margaret Hodge.
Ten NHS trusts, 21 foundation trusts and three primary care trusts reported a combined deficit of £356 million.
A further 31 struggling NHS trusts and 11 foundation trusts may not have broken even if they had not been bailed out with cash injections worth £1.1 billion from the department, as well as support from primary care trusts and strategic health authorities, said the report.
We reported how NHS Worcestershire gave Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust an extra £7.3 million for 2011/12 and £6 million the year before to prop up their finances.
A joint services review is also underway to try and make savings of £50 million over the next three years across county hospitals.
The plans could involve centralising A&E and maternity services at a single hospital, causing concerns about the future of services at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch rather than the newer PFI hospital in Worcester.
A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages the hospitals in Worcester, Redditch and Kidderminster, said: “The trust is not one of the 10 NHS trusts named in the Public Accounts Committee report.
“Whilst the trust does have a historic debt of £18m, this was built up between 2002-2006. Since this period, the trust has either made a surplus or has achieved breakeven.
"Furthermore, whilst the trust used PFI to deliver and run its Worcestershire Royal Hospital, a Department of Health review concluded that this was both affordable and well managed.”