Seventeen acute trusts have been named by the Department of Health as being under 'rigorous review' due to their inability to show they could repay loans quickly to offset financial deficits.

Of these, 12 have been identified as being unable to afford repayments at all and repayment would be over a long timescale for another five. They were provided with cash to tide them over until year-end, while the remaining five have secured loans.

Good Hope Hospital trust has been cut from the list following acquisition by Heart of England foundation trust. The DoH has suggested other trusts may escape the list if they can provide assurances about loan repayment.

NHS chief executive David Nicholson said: 'The overwhelming majority of trusts have seen improvements in financial performance this year and many trusts have really turned things around.

'We have considered the cash needs of each trust in the country, and replaced cash brokerage with a transparent, responsible and repayable loans system.

'HSJ was wrong to say there is a 'hit-list' of trusts that could be closed (news, page 5, 19 April). The majority named in the article last week have already agreed a loan with the DoH that they are able to repay over a reasonable timescale.

'SHAs are now working through a review process with these trusts to identify long-term solutions. Given the different nature of the problems in each trust we expect the solution for each organisation to be individual and tailored to best deliver value while maintaining standards of care to the community they serve,' he said.

'I have no doubt this will be a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable process for trusts who are undergoing this process, but our absolute priority is continuity of patient care and to ensure we tackle the underlying problems in these trusts no matter how uncomfortable that may be.'

  • Last Thursday HSJ published a story about Department of Health plans to restructure a number of financially troubled acute trusts (news, page 5, 19 April). As part of this we published a list of likely candidates, based on their rating by the Healthcare Commission and published work by the Audit Commission.

HSJ accepts the list was not an accurate reflection of those trusts the DoH is reviewing, or of some trusts' current financial performance. We should also have made it clearer that the names we published were not intended to represent the DoH list but only those trusts likely to be included given their recent financial history. We apologise both for the confusion caused and directly to the trusts named.

Of the 19 trusts listed last week, seven are under DoH review, nine have agreed loans and are not under review and three did not submit a request (Airedale, Northern Devon Healthcare, and University Hospital of North Staffordshire).

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust has also denied it was in discussions with Frimley Park foundation trust about a possible merger or service transfer. Chief executive Gail Wannell said: 'Surrey and Sussex has achieved significant financial and operational improvements over the past 18 months and can no longer be regarded as a financially failing organisation.'