The Liberal Democrats have described the Tories as “heartless” for starving the NHS of vital cash after revealing Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust paid £1,204,587 in interest on outstanding debt over the last five years. Over five years, the sum - paid by the Trust to the Department for Health and Social Care - could have paid for eight nurses’ salaries, five clinical psychologists or two consultants.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Winchester & Chandler’s Ford, Paula Ferguson, said:
“These revelations are appalling. Our doctors and nurses are working hard with incredibly limited resources, so it’s astounding that the Government is forcing our local trust to pay staggering amounts of interest on debt they owe to the Government itself. Debt that the trust wouldn’t have to pay if the NHS was funded properly in the first place.
It’s completely wrong that funds are being bled from local services to line central Government coffers rather than paying for care or to train more doctors and nurses.
People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we’re committed to a transformational investment in health with a modest penny on income tax.”
The figures from the Department for Health and Social Care were uncovered by a Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request. Nationwide, £607,404,854 worth of interest on outstanding debt was paid by NHS Trusts to the Department for Health and Social Care in the last five years. The same statistics also show that the NHS Trusts, which service a local area or specialised function to deliver aspects of healthcare, paid almost £63m of interest on outstanding debt in 2013/2014 but that this rose dramatically to over £205m in 2017/2018. At a national level, calculations by the Liberal Democrats, revealed that this money could have paid for 22,000 Nurses, 13,850 Clinical Psychologists or 6,700 Consultants.
The revelation reinforces concerns from the National Audit Office which warns “the underlying financial health in some trusts is getting worse”, despite the Government’s commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to “reducing year-on-year the number of trusts and CCGs individually in deficit, so that all NHS organisations are in balance by 2023/24.”