New help for health trusts

AILING health trusts could be bailed out by loans from their neighbouring organisations, it emerged today.Health chiefs in east Suffolk have backed new proposals which would see trusts who manage to conquer their debts forced to help their cash-strapped counterparts.

AILING health trusts could be bailed out by loans from their neighbouring organisations, it emerged today.

Health chiefs in east Suffolk have backed new proposals which would see trusts who manage to conquer their debts forced to help their cash-strapped counterparts.

All three primary care trusts are currently battling debts totalling £19.4m, but if any of them manage to get back in the black they will be required to loan their surplus money to those that have not.

Julian Herbert, director of finance, said: "For whichever PCT comes in to surplus first, the first call on that surplus is to put it back into the system to help the others."


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The new proposals were approved by the strategic board of the three PCTs at a meeting yesterday but were met with some resistance.

Martyn Hanlon, a non-executive director, said: "This scheme does not appear to be rewarding good practice. You will never get improvements if you fail to recognise good practice."

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Carole Taylor-Brown, interim chief executive of the PCTs, said it should not be about rewarding trusts but ensuring they "bring their houses back in to order."

She said: "We have made a lot of improvements, but we are investing in services and spending beyond our means.

"I feel very strongly that if we want to work as part of the NHS family, we have to commit to do that. "If we can't help out our very close family then we are in a very sorry state.

"Our partners are supporting us and when in comes closer to home we should be supporting them too."

Mr Herbert added: "The idea is not to plunge a PCT which is in surplus in to a deficit, it's to ensure that if there's a surplus it's there to help others in the system."

The board agreed to adopt the proposal for a two-year period and then review it.

Currently, Ipswich PCT has a deficit of £9.3m, while Central Suffolk's is £3.5m and Suffolk Coastal's £6.7m.

The trust have two years to reach financial balance and pay off all their debts.

Do you think the loans are a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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