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'Hospitals will not be able to stay out of debt'

PUBLISHED: 17:36 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 11:02 12 August 2010

HOSPITALS will always be in debt despite an emergency bale out plan, claim patients. All London Primary Care Trusts (PCTS) including Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich have put forward plans to pay off the £275 million historic debt across all London hospit

HOSPITALS will 'always be in debt' despite an emergency bale out plan, claim patients.

All London Primary Care Trusts (PCTS) including Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich have put forward plans to pay off the £275 million historic debt across all London hospitals over the next two years.

But patients at Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust which looks set to get its £101 million debt paid off, fear health bosses will not be able to keep PFI Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) out of debt.

Patient and health campaigner Julie Mott said: "It would be nice to wipe the slate clean but they have not been able to work within budget up to now. I don't think there is going to be any change of that now. Just this year alone, Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust have added £6 million to their deficit."

So far, Bromley are to receive £49 million of the pooled funds but bosses there are currently in talks with the Department of Health to see if they will cough up the other £52 million.

If agreed at individual board meetings this month the PCTs will move ahead to forgo their £304 million top slice levied last year and this year by NHS London.

This will go into a central fund along with 1.3 per cent of their income for two years.

But each hospital in debt will have to prove to the newly-formed Challenged Trust Board they will not rack up more debts after the old ones are paid off.

Consultant at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup Andrew Bamji welcomed the move but said that he was not convinced hospitals would stay out of debt.

He added: "The idea is to get rid of the cumulative debt to allow everyone to start again. Part of the problem has been that of historic debt which has never been repayable. Failure from now on will either be clear mismanagement or clear underfunding.

"Government increases have never matched the necessary expenditure increases. However there was for years a covert bail-out process which allowed everyone to limp along.

"Not like now when they have to cut services to try and pay off historic debt will be an advantage, but history is not on the side of those who think this move will solve the problem once and for all."

The five financially challenged PCTs including Bexley with its £10.2 million of historic debt will be exempt from paying into the fund until they are in the black.

Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust were due to have an Executive Team Management yesterday morning to finalise their proposals to the PCT.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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