The local Liberal Democrats have slammed the Tories as “heartless” for starving the NHS of vital cash after revealing that Lewisham and Greenwich Healthcare NHS Trust paid £1,853,752 in interest on outstanding debt over the last three years.
Lewisham Liberal Democrat, Chris Maines, claims the “Government are giving taxpayers money with one hand, and taking it back with the other, instead of training more doctors and nurses." He says it is “an absolute slap in the face to all of us who rely on the NHS”.
The figures from the Department for Health and Social Care, uncovered by a Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request, revealed £607,404,854 worth of interest on outstanding debt was paid by over NHS Trusts to the Department for Health and Social Care in the last five years.
According to calculations by the Liberal Democrats, that money could have paid for 22,000 Nurses, 13,850 Clinical Psychologists or 6,700 Consultants.
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. In 2017/2018 it dramatically rose to over £205m.
The revelation reinforces concerns from the National Audit Office which warns that “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.”
Liberal Democrat spokesperson Chris Maines for Lewisham said:
"While hard working doctors and nurses are being forced to work with insufficient resources, it's frankly heartless that the Conservatives have starved Lewisham and Greenwich Hospitals of £1,853,752 ”
"If the Conservatives were actually giving our hospitals the funding they need then health trusts wouldn't be forced to run a deficit in the first place.”
Chris Maines has recently been selected by Lewisham Liberal Democrats to be their Parliamentary candidate in Lewisham East. He added:
"Our local Hospitals are already struggling with debt charges following the disastrous PFI (Private Finance Initiative) introduced by the last Labour Government. These internal interest payments, which have more than doubled in the last financial year, are starving vital services of much needed funding. The money could be used to train more doctors and nurse to deal with the chronic staffing shortages."
Chris Maines, who represented Blackheath ward on Lewisham Council for eight years, wants to build on the strong second place the party achieved in the Lewisham East parliamentary by-election last year, commented, “Labour are in a shambles nationally over Brexit and losing members locally. People in Lewisham deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. That is why Liberal Democrats are committed to a transformational investment in public health with a modest penny on income tax.”
Please see here a full breakdown by NHS Trust of the Liberal Democrat freedom of information request.
Chapter six of The NHS Long Term Plan, published January 2019, commits 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.”
The National Audit’s Office ‘NHS financial sustainability’ [published 19 January 2019] report warns “There are indications that the underlying financial health in some trusts is getting worse.”