Weston hospital’s debt wiped by government

Member of staff at Weston General Hospital dies of coronavirus.

Member of staff at Weston General Hospital dies of coronavirus. - Credit: Archant

Weston Area Health Trust’s £57milllion debt has been wiped by the government.

The trust, which runs Weston General Hospital, can now focus on providing front-line local health services.

The announcement has been welcomed by Weston MP John Penrose, who has been campaigning for fairer funding for the hospital for a number of years.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and Weston Area Health NHS Trust formally merged to become University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) earlier this month.

More: Merger of Weston and Bristol hospitals creates new NHS trust.

Mr Penrose said it is the ‘best possible way’ to celebrate the merger.

He said: “For years, Weston hospital struggled financially, with annual budget over-runs because it couldn’t make ends meet.

“I and others campaigned about it for ages, saying we didn’t get the health cash that successive government’s official figures said we should, or what our elderly population needed. After years of prodding and persuasion we got the budget we deserved, and this year we merged with Bristol Royal Infirmary to give our hospital a solid long-term foundation at last.

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“But we still had the millstone of all those historic debts hanging round the hospital’s neck, sucking money away to repay the debts and interest when it should have been used for front-line local health services instead.

“Wiping the slate clean is the final victory in this incredibly long-running campaign. It’s a real milestone, and the best possible way to send the newly-merged hospitals on their way together.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced more than £13billion of NHS debt will be scrapped from April 1 to enable hospitals to focus on fighting the pandemic.

Scrapping the debt was part of a wider package of NHS reforms to help the NHS become more financially sustainable.

Mr Hancock said: “Today’s £13.4billion debt write-off will wipe the slate clean and allow NHS hospitals to plan for the future and invest in vital services.

“I remain committed to providing the NHS with whatever it needs to tackle coronavirus, and the changes to the funding model will give the NHS immediate financial certainty to plan and deliver their emergency response.”