BREAKING NEWS: £16m debt is wiped out

PATIENTS in North Somerset can look forward to improving services after Weston Area Health Trust had millions in debt wiped to take it back into the black.

PATIENTS in North Somerset can look forward to improving services after Weston Area Health Trust had millions in debt wiped to take it back into the black.

The health trust, which runs Weston General Hospital, has agreed a plan with North Somerset Primary Care Trust to eliminate its historic debt of £16.25million.

The news was announced yesterday (Weds) at a Strategic Health Authority (SHA) meeting in Kingswood, South Gloucestershire.

The primary care trust will provide cash to eradicate the deficit which the health trust will pay back over a five-year period.


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Previously, Weston's health trust was labelled by the Government as 'financially challenged' due to its historic debt.

Chief executive Lorene Read said: "This is fantastic news for patients because the trust is back in financial health for the first time in many years.

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"We have demonstrated financial turnaround and now we can better plan services for the future."

Last month, more than £5million was cleared from the health trust's books by the SHA to allow it to break even this year.

The primary care trust also had debts of £12million wiped by the Department of Health.

Now the SHA has stepped in again to help agree the deal between the trusts.

Primary care trust chief executive Chris Born said: "What it means is that it will have the money for the historic debt. But it will be paying it back in contributions over five years.

"As a primary care trust we have to make sure that the health trust has enough cash for the services it runs.

"It is about making sure it gets support if more people start going to the hospital.

"Now more effort can go towards re-designing services for patients rather than worrying about debt."

The SHA also wiped deficits for North Bristol NHS Trust of £52m, Royal United Hospital, Bath, of £38m and Royal Cornwall NHS Trust of £56m.

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