The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Tories as heartless for starving the NHS of vital cash after revealing University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust paid £12,578,657 in interest on outstanding debt over the last five years.
Former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, warned taxpayers money being spent “lining the Government’s coffers instead of training more doctors and nurses" was “an absolute slap in the face to all of us that rely on the NHS”.
The figures from the Department for Health and Social Care, uncovered by a Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request, revealed £607,404,854 worth of interest on outstanding debt was paid by over NHS Trusts to the Department for Health and Social Care in the last five years.
According to calculations by the Liberal Democrats, that money could have paid for 22,000 Nurses, 13,850 Clinical Psychologists or 6,700 Consultants.
At University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, the money owed could have paid for 458 Nurses, 139 Clinical Psychologists or 286 Consultants.
The same statistics also show that the NHS Trusts, which services a local area or specialised function to deliver aspects of healthcare, paid almost £63m of interest on outstanding debt in 2013/2014. In 2017/2018, it dramatically rose to over £205m.
The revelation reinforces concerns from the National Audit Office which warns “the underlying financial health in some trusts is getting worse”, despite the Government’s commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to “reducing year-on-year the number of trusts and CCGs individually in deficit, so that all NHS organisations are in balance by 2023/24.”
James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:
"While hard-working doctors and nurses are being forced to work with insufficient resources, it's frankly heartless that the Conservatives have starved University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust of more than £12.5 million.
"If the Conservatives were actually giving our hospitals the funding they need then health trusts wouldn't be forced to run a deficit in the first place."
"We have a plan for getting the NHS back on its feet and for rebuilding a holistic health service that supports everyone. In the short term, we would put a penny in income tax to meet immediate priorities in social care, reverse cuts to public health, and invest in mental health.
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron added:
"That taxpayers' money is being spent lining the Government’s coffers instead of on training more doctors and nurses is an absolute slap in the face to all of us that rely on the NHS.
"People deserve better and the Liberal Democrats demand better. That is why Liberal Democrats are committed to a transformational investment in public health with a modest penny on income tax.”