The total value of trust bailouts paid out by the Department of Health so far this financial year has already outstripped last year’s total, HSJ research shows.
Data from the DH shows it has paid £840.8m in the first three-quarters of 2014-15 to help trusts that were running at a deficit, compared to the £759.8m in 2013-14.
HSJ’s analysis highlights the increased pressure faced by NHS provider organisations over the past nine months.
The trust receiving the most support so far this year is London North West Healthcare Trust, which has received £17.9m. It was formed from the merger of Ealing Hospital Trust and North West London Hospitals Trust in October, with the latter receiving £61.2m in bailout earlier in 2014-15.
Most of 2014-15’s increase on last year’s total is in the foundation trust sector. Foundation trusts received £118.1m in temporary public dividend capital revenue support from the DH in 2013-14, compared with £282.8m so far in 2014-15.
The DH defines “temporary public dividend capital” as cash “issued to cover short term cash flow problems”.
“Permanent” revenue support payments are defined as “agreed deficit support applications” that can be either multiyear recovery plans or “interim” and agreed for only one financial year. The DH data did not distinguish between the two different categories of permanent revenue support payments. There is not yet information on how much trusts had repaid to the DH in 2013-14 or 2014-15.
Applications for bailout funding are made by trusts to their regulator - the NHS Trust Development Authority for NHS trusts and Monitor for foundation trusts - which then submit a request on their behalf to a DH committee called the independent trust finance facility.
Richard Murray, the King’s Fund’s director of policy and a former senior DH official, said: “It’s a long time since NHS finances have been so grim. More organisations are running out of cash and those that got it last year got more this year.
“The problem for the [facility] is it is not very easy for them to say no if a trust says to them, ‘our staff are going to get a surprise when they don’t get paid this month’.”
He added: “When you see how many organisations are dependent on the DH you realise just how far we are from [former health secretary] Andrew Lansley’s vision of a devolved service.”
Anita Charlesworth, chief economist for the Health Foundation, said the data “highlighted just how much time and money it is taking to put some organisations on to a sustainable footing, and as a result how challenging the special administration regime is proving to be in practice”.
The payments listed for this year include £58.9m of payments to the now dissolved Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust after it was put through the trust special administration process.
The records for 2013-14 show £28.5m in temporary revenue support paid to South London Healthcare Trust, which was dissolved in October 2013.
A spokeswoman for the DH said: “We expect NHS trusts to have a strong grip on their finances. When trusts develop and stick to strong recovery plans, we provide short term funding to make sure they continue to deliver safe and sustainable services.”
HSJ this week revealed that Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust had applied to the TDA for £9.6m in bailout this year.
- Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
- East Midlands
- East of England
- HINCHINGBROOKE HEALTH CARE NHS TRUST
- King's Fund
- NHS Trust Development Authority
- Nuffield Trust
- SHERWOOD FOREST HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST
- UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF LEICESTER NHS TRUST
- UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF NORTH MIDLANDS NHS TRUST