Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham Max Wilkinson has slammed the Tories as “heartless” for starving the NHS of vital cash after revealing Gloucestershire hospitals paid £9.8million in interest on outstanding debt over the last five years.
Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), uncovered by a Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request, revealed £9,818,640 worth of interest on outstanding debt was paid by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to the DHSC in the last five years.
According to calculations by Cheltenham Liberal Democrats, that money could have paid the salary of 358 Nurses, 223 Clinical Psychologists or 108 Consultants.
Max said: “While hard working doctors and nurses are being forced to work with insufficient resources, it's frankly heartless that the Conservatives have starved Gloucestershire hospitals of £9.8million.
"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.”
Max also raised concerns about the future of Cheltenham General Hospital which could see its A&E department closed under proposals from NHS Trust bosses.
He added: “I have grave concerns about the threat to Cheltenham General’s A&E department due to the cuts imposed by this Conservative government.
“The people of Cheltenham deserve better and the Liberal Democrats have a plan for investing properly in our NHS to solve the sorts of problems being caused by this government.”
Nationwide, the figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats show £607,404,854 worth of interest on outstanding debt was paid over by NHS Trusts to the DHSC in the last five years.
The same statistics also show that the NHS Trusts, which service 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.”