MP welcomes debt write-off for local NHS Trusts

Geoffrey Cox QC, Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon, has welcomed the announcement that both University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust will benefit from a debt write-off of £140million and £20million respectively, as part of the government’s announcement to scrap £13.4 billion of NHS debt across England.

The changes will provide much needed financial support to NHS Trusts 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. It launches 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 £5 billion Covid-19 Response Fund.
  • Increasing the capacity of the NHS, with new, temporary NHS Nightingale Hospitals opening in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate.
  • 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.

Geoffrey Cox said: “It is extremely welcome news that both University Hospital Plymouth NHS Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust will receive government funding to write-off historic debt, freeing them up to invest in maintaining vital services and longer-term infrastructure improvements.

“Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust will receive just over £20million, while University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust will receive just over £141million. 

“These are the two main NHS Trusts serving my constituents in Torridge and West Devon, and it is essential that both hospitals are able to function as effectively as possible, both through the current pandemic and beyond.

“This announcement comes alongside a new NHS funding model to make sure the NHS has the necessary funding and support to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, further demonstrating the government’s commitment to doing whatever it takes to tackle coronavirus.”

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 £13.4 billion 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.”
 

Notes to Editors

We are supporting the NHS through coronavirus by:
 

  • Writing off over £13 billion of debt for NHS providers, freeing them up to investing in maintaining vital services. 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 package is launched in combination with a simpler internal payment system to help NHS trusts in dealing with the Covid-19 response, which was agreed with NHS England last week (DHSC, Press Release, 2 April 2020, link).
     
  • Providing any extra resource the NHS needs to tackle the virus. We have created a new £5 billion Initial COVID-19 Response Fund so the NHS can treat coronavirus patients; councils can support vulnerable people; and ensure funding is available for other public services (HMT, Budget 2020, 11 March 2020, link).
     
  • Providing £1.3 billion to help the NHS discharge patients who no longer need care more quickly, freeing up vital space. Of the £5 billion we are providing, £1.3 billion will be used to enhance the NHS discharge process. The will help to free up 15,000 hospital beds across England and ensure more staff have capacity to treat people needed urgent care, including those being cared for with coronavirus (DHSC, News Story, 19 March 2020, link).
     
  • Working with British manufacturers to support the production of essential medical equipment for the NHS, such as ventilators. To date, there are more than 8,000 ventilators available to NHS patients–more than when the outbreak began–and there are another 8,000 expected from existing international manufacturers in the coming weeks. The first thousands of new ventilators will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week (Cabinet Office, News Story, 28 March 2020, link).
     
  • Ensuring the NHS has the support and the people it needs to fight the virus. We have called for extra NHS staff to help the fight against Covid-19, including retired doctors, nurses and final year students joining frontline services. So far, 20,000 retired NHS professionals have signed up to re-join the NHS in its fight against the coronavirus.5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses will also move to the frontline to help our efforts
     
  • Introducing a new five-point plan to significantly increase testing, so that NHS staff can have the tests they need. We are expanding testing to critical NHS staff, and their families, to help ensure they can stay in work if they test negative, and to get them back to work as quickly as possible if they have symptoms. Once widespread testing is available, we will test critical NHS staff and other critical keyworkers repeatedly, including some weekly, to keep them safe and ensure they do not spread the virus. As we ramp up we will expand testing to all NHS staff, and critical key workers, then to all key workers, and then to the whole population.
     
  • Extending visas for NHS frontline workers and their families for a year–demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK. Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year, free of charge. By giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension, this will allow those at the frontline to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives (Home Office, News Story, 31 March 2020, link).
     
  • Providing free car parking for our NHS and social care workers. These workers will be able to park in on street parking bays and council owned carparks without having to worry about cost or time restrictions (Robert Jenrick, Twitter, 25 March 2020, link).