'NHS trusts are handing over more than £205m a year to the Government in interest payments after being forced to take out loans, i can reveal.
Critics accused the Conservatives of “starving the NHS” by charging unreasonable interest rates on the loans they make to hospitals and other organisations which are struggling to afford their running costs.
Trusts across England have paid more than £607m to Whitehall in interest over the past five years. The amount paid out is rising every year as NHS debts continue to mount; last year it could have paid the salaries of 7,500 nurses.
The interest goes into the general budget of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) instead of being spent directly on NHS services. Trusts can request loans from the department if they face a shortfall in funding day-to-day operations or capital investments. The Government charges interest of up to 6 per cent on the loans. This summer it emerged that the total debt owed by NHS trusts stands at more than £14bn after years of austerity.
NHS hit by Treasury bill
'It’s frankly heartless that the Conservatives have starved NHS trusts of more than half a billion pounds', says Tim Farron (Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire)
Over the past five years, the DHSC has been paid a total of £607,404,854 in loan interest, according to figures unearthed through the Freedom of Information Act. The amount being paid has risen every year, reaching £205,053,570 in 2018-19 – nearly £4m a week. The £205m bill would be enough to pay the salaries of nearly 7,500 nurses at £27,400 each or 2,300 consultants on £90,000.'
Read more: NHS trusts handing over £205m a year to the Treasury in interest payments as debts mount
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