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Coronavirus update

Financially-struggling trusts were told on Thursday that £13bn of combined debt will be effectively written off by the government.

Plans to do this had been under discussion for almost two years at least, so the announcement — made by Matt Hancock and implying it had been made in response to the covid-19 crisis — was slightly disingenuous.

Technically, while badged as a write-off, there will still be a charge attached with the debts converted into a kind of equity investment, known as public dividend capital.

Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly a relief for NHS trusts, which last year had a combined £14bn debt.

Meanwhile, on the same day NHS England confirmed two more Nightingale Hospitals, HSJ heard of fears one region was being “lulled into a false sense of security” after plans for its own temporary facility were halted.

NHSE has paused plans for a coronavirus hospital in the north east after several weeks of work, due to concerns over lack of projected demand, HSJ has been told. One leader in the area described the plans as a “mess”.

Doubts have also been expressed as to whether a covid-19 hospital in the south east will go ahead.