A Wirral Councillor has welcomed the announcement that Wirral University Teaching Hospital, including Arrowe Park Hospital, will benefit from an £83.8 million debt write-off as part of the government’s announcement to scrap £13.4 billion of NHS debt across England.
This debt write-off will rid more than a hundred NHS hospitals of historic debt, freeing them up to invest in maintaining vital services and longer-term infrastructure improvements. This announcement also comes alongside a new NHS funding model to make sure the NHS has the necessary funding and support to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Councillor Kathy Hodson (Conservative, Heswall Ward) said: "This is great news for our local hospitals in Wirral. To have £83.8 million of debt written off means money can be freed up for patient care instead.
“This will help put our NHS hospitals, mental health and community services across Wirral in a stronger position not only to deal with coronavirus in the short term but in a better position for the long term as well.
Trusts across the North West will benefit from £1.5 billion of debt written off thanks to this move.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: "As we tackle this crisis, nobody in our health service should be distracted by their hospital’s past finances.
“This £13.4 billion 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.”
Other steps being taken to support our NHS at this time include:
- Providing any extra resource the NHS needs to tackle the virus. We have created a new £5 billion Initial COVID-19 Response Fund so the NHS can treat coronavirus patients; councils can support vulnerable people, and ensure funding is available for other public services.
- Providing £1.3 billion to help the NHS discharge patients who no longer need care more quickly, freeing up vital space. Of the £5 billion we are providing, £1.3 billion will be used to enhance the NHS discharge process. The will help to free up 15,000 hospital beds across England and ensure more staff have the capacity to treat people needed urgent care, including those being cared for with coronavirus.
- Working with British manufacturers to support the production of essential medical equipment for the NHS, such as ventilators. To date, there are more than 8,000 ventilators available to NHS patients–more than when the outbreak began–and there are another 8,000 expected from existing international manufacturers in the coming weeks. The first thousands of new ventilators will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week.
- Ensuring the NHS has the support and the people it needs to fight the virus. We have called for extra NHS staff to help the fight against COVID-19, including retired doctors, nurses and final year students joining frontline services. So far, 20,000 retired NHS professionals have signed up to re-join the NHS in its fight against the coronavirus. 5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses will also move to the frontline to help our efforts.
- Introducing a new five-point plan to significantly increase testing, so that NHS staff can have the tests they need. We are expanding testing to critical NHS staff, and their families, to help ensure they can stay in work if they test negative, and to get them back to work as quickly as possible if they have symptoms. Once widespread testing is available, we will test critical NHS staff and other critical keyworkers repeatedly, including some weekly, to keep them safe and ensure they do not spread the virus. As we ramp up we will expand testing to all NHS staff, and critical key workers, then to all key workers, and then to the whole population.
- Providing free car parking for our NHS and social care workers. These workers will be able to park in on street parking bays and council-owned carparks without having to worry about cost or time restrictions.