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Lansley promises bail-out for debt-ridden hospitals

Financially failing hospital trusts will get additional Government support so that GP commissioners can ‘deliver care not manage provider debt’, the health secretary has said.

Speaking at a Reform conference on clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), Andrew Lansley said that hospitals which fulfilled a range of criteria could be bailed out.

The health secretary said: ‘CCGs, as they take up their responsibilities, have to be focused on using their resources to deliver the best possible care for the patients they serve not, as in the past, having to use a significant part of their resources to manage a system that is failing to manage itself successfully.’

‘There is no point, 20 years after the purchaser provider split, arriving at a place where the purchasers of care find themselves constantly mired in the problems of provider debt. We have to deal, on the provider side, with that and ensure that CCGs have access to a range of viable, sustainable, high quality provision.’

Mr Lansley said that where hospitals face difficulties through ‘no fault of their own’, through, for example PFI debt repayments, the Government would give one-off transparent loans.

He said these hospital trusts will only be able to access this once they have met four key tests: the problems they face must be exceptional and beyond those faced by other organisations; they must show that the problems are historic and that they have a clear plan to manage their resources in the future; they must show plans to deliver high levels of annual productivity savings and they must provide clinically viable high quality services including delivering waiting times and other performance measures.

‘These are tough tests but they are fair. Fair to the hospitals facing up to these problems and fair to the rest of the NHS. These hospitals owe it to their local communities to take the tough decisions necessary to deliver the right levels of care, hospitals that are financially out of control cannot serve the needs of their patients,’ Mr Lansley said.