Hospitals loaned £30m for 'vital' patient care
PUBLISHED: 16:26 23 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:07 24 October 2019
Two Norfolk hospitals are set to share £30m in loans, sending them further into the red to buy new equipment and clear a backlog of repairs.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital will receive £20.87m while the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn will get £9m, the Department for Health said.
It said they were two of 13 trusts which would receive capital loans totalling £148m for "some of the most urgent hospital upgrades to protect vital frontline patient care".
The N&NUH's 2019/20 operational plan forecasts a deficit of £20.7m. The QEH ended the last financial year £35.8m in the red.
While it has not yet predicted the size of any future deficit its auditors KPMG wrote in its annual report: "The trust is reliant on further cash support from NHS Improvement in order to meet its liabilities and continue to provide healthcare services."
It has not yet been made clear how and when the money must be paid back. The N&NUH said: "We have a financial plan in place to cover the savings and investments needed for our hospitals over the years ahead."
The Department for Health says money is being loaned to the N&NUH to replace equipment, including defibrillators and CT scanners and imaging, as well as funding its radiology, endoscopy and nephrology departments.
Simon Hackwell, its director of strategy, said: "This funding loan is good news for local patients, helping us to invest in state-of-the-art equipment to provide the very best care for our population. Our cancer service is the fifth largest service in the country and this investment will enable us to purchase specialist imaging equipment which is a key part of that service."
Liz Sanford, acting director of finance and resources at the QEH, said: "The loan will allow us to progress our highest priority schemes, including improvements to the heating system, IT equipment and replacing equipment that is coming to the end of its life.
"This investment in our estates and equipment is essential to supporting the delivery of safe patient care and the effective operating of the hospital."
The Department for Health said the money would be loaned to the hospitals at National Loan Fund rates, equivalent to the government's cost of borrowing.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "These loans will make sure hospitals continue to deliver vital services to patients in buildings that are safe and have the right equipment to deliver world-class care.
"Since July, we have injected £4.8bn capital funding into the NHS - helping refurbish hospital wards, replace old medical equipment and maintain NHS buildings."