The government has estimated that bailing out hospital trusts with large PFI repayments could cost £1.5bn.

An announcement this afternoon confirmed that was the amount the Department of Health could have to pay to make sure seven hospital trusts meet their repayments.

HSJ has previously reported that an analysis carried out by McKinsey found six NHS trusts whose PFI schemes meant they would not achieve foundation trust status without central support.

The six trusts are: St Helens and Knowsley, North Cumbria, Dartford and Gravesham, South London Healthcare Trust, Barking, Havering and Redbridge and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells.

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust joins the six NHS trusts which are eligible to apply for the fund from the Department of Health.

As detailed in a speech last year, the trusts will have to pass four tests set by the Secretary of State in order to access the money.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said those negotiations were now starting but the payments would be yearly and will probably be spread over the life of the contract, which run between 16 to 29 years from now.

From 2012-13 until the end of the seven contracts the trusts owe a total of £9.467bn, according to Treasury figures.

Government figures showed the seven organisations face a combined PFI repayment of £251m in the 2012-13 financial year.

National media officer at the Healthcare Financial Management Association Chris Calkin said: “We welcome this recognition of the financial pressure that these trusts wilth PFI hospitals are facing. However it will still potentially leaves several trusts still with significant cost reduction programmes to achieve to remain financially viable. This will become apparent as the foundation trust pipeline runs through.” 

Andrew Lansley said “Labour left some parts of the NHS with a dismal legacy of PFI, and made them rely on unworkable plans for the future. They swept these problems under the carpet for a decade, and left us with a £60 billion post-dated PFI cheque to deal with.

“The problems facing some parts of the NHS left to us by Labour now have to be sorted out. Tough solutions may be needed for these problems, but we will not let the sick pay for Labour’s debt crisis.”