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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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£6m funding gap at north Cumbria hospitals plugged

A £6 million gap in the finances of north Cumbria’s troubled hospitals trust has been plugged.

There had been doubt about how the hole – caused by the private finance debt that plagues Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary – would be filled.

Until recently the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which operates the hospital and the West Cumberland in Whitehaven, has been supported by £26.3m of funds from the Strategic Health Authority, which is about to be abolished in Government health reforms.

Of that, £6m was cash related to the private finance initiative used to pay for the hospital. With the strategic authority’s abolition, it had been unclear how that money would be affected.

But a trust spokeswoman said this week: “NHS North of England has been able to ensure that the Trust receives the finance that was agreed by the Department of Health earlier in the financial year. This was through discussion with Department of Health and the new organisation with the responsibility for overseeing non-foundation trusts, the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA).

“The decision will give more stability for the Trust in the next financial year. The NHS TDA has set out its support for the Trusts regarding Private Finance Initiative (PFI) payments in its 2013/14 planning guidance for all non-foundation trust trusts.”

The Cumberland Infirmary, opened in 2000, was one of the first to be built with controversial PFI funding. Acting like a mortgage, it means the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has had to meet significant annual repayments.

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