A £6m loan that Kettering General Hospital had to take out for ‘urgent safety improvements’ was highlighted as ‘great news’.
Cash-strapped Kettering General Hospital took the loan from the Government in May to pay for essential improvements and, that same month, it was highlighted by MP Tom Pursglove as ‘great news’ on his Facebook page.
Mr Pursglove had been told in a email by Health Secretary Matt Hancock - who is currently running in the Conservative party leadership race - that the money was ‘funding..that will always be there for your constituents.’
A message on Mr Pursglove’s Facebook page said: “I’ve heard some great news - the Department of Health & Social Care have awarded an extra £6million in funding to Kettering General Hospital.
“This will be available right away, as part of the NHS’ ‘Long Term Plan’. I know it will go a long way to improving safety, quality and timeliness of care. This is very good news and more funding for our local NHS! Listened. Campaigned. Delivered!”
But the hospital had a different take on the money - and said that the funding was actually a loan subject to interest that was not linked to the NHS Long Term Plan.
The director of finance Nicci Briggs said: “Kettering General Hospital received £6m of capital loan (subject to repayments and interest) in April 2019 relating to a capital loan request submission made in May 2018.
“This submission was for £6m of loan funding to deliver essential and urgent patient safety improvements and backlog estate maintenance works.
“This funding is not linked to the NHS ‘Long term plan’.”
Kettering General Hospital papers estimate that there is a current high or significant risk maintenance backlog of £42m - although this figure is under review.
The trust ended the financial year 2018/19 by sinking further into the red with a deficit of £28.9m. They had planned for the deficit to be just £27.4m.
When asked for further comment, Mr Pursglove said he was ‘surprised’ and referred our reporter to a letter he had recevied from Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock which made no reference to the fact the money was a loan. It read: “I am writing to let you know that we have completed our review of capital funding bid from Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and have agreed to release £6 million to deal with safety related estates work.
“NHS Improvement have relayed the approval to the trust’s Director of Finance and informed them that the funding is available for them to draw from early April.
“This is all part of Long Term Plan for the future of the NHS, supported by our new cash funding commitment of £33.9 billion by 2023-24, to make sure it is always there for your constituents.
“I trust that this funding will help to deliver improved quality and timeliness of care for your constituents.”