NHS heading for surplus28th March 2007
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has said she is confident the NHS would achieve a small surplus at the end of this financial year.
Her comments come as she announced that an accounting rule responsible for plunging 28 hospital trusts into debt will end and those affected this year will be reimbursed.
The ‘double whammy’ rule means overspent trusts not only have to pay back their debt the following year, but have the same amount deducted from that year’s budget. This year it accounts for £179m, which will now be covered by the £450m contingency fund collected by strategic health authorities. Some of the trusts affected will now record a surplus.
Primary Care Trusts will still face the accounting rule as they are chiefly purchasers, but Ms Hewitt said more financial reforms would follow.
The Health Secretary has estimated up to 20 hospitals will still be in debt at the end of the financial year, their deficits will be covered by savings made by other trusts. She speculated that Foundation Trusts takeovers of cash-strapped NHS hospitals could be the answer to intractable debt.
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