MP Helen Hayes today (7 April) warned that Brixton’s local hospital, King’s College, still faces huge financial challenges, despite its historic debt having been written off by the government.
The Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, whose constituency takes in much of Brixton and King’s Denmark Hill campus, welcomed the announcement.
But she said that, without a substantially increased annual budget, the King’s College Hospital Trust’s current huge annual overspends would simply lead to enormous debt building up again.
“In 2010, King’s College Hospital had a balanced budget and was achieving all its main targets after sustained investment by the then Labour government,” Hayes said.
“But a decade later, in 2020, the trust was in financial special measures with the highest debt and highest annual deficit of any hospital in the country, after the coalition government destabilised the trust by forcing it to take on the running of other hospitals without adequate funds to do so.”
Each year since the hospital trust was put under financial special measures it had been charged penal rates of interest on its overspend, the MP said.
It was also refused tens of millions of pounds that had been made available to other trusts because of its overspend, crippling its finances further.
“Despite the hard work of frontline staff across the hospital, by 2020 King’s had built up a debt of more than half a billion pounds that continued to increase due to an annual deficit of £170-180 million a year,” Hayes said. Without a big budget increases annual overspends would lead again to a enormous debt.
“After five years of campaigning hard to ensure that King’s is put on a firm financial footing, I am pleased that the Tory government has finally listened to sense and agreed to write off this huge historic debt of more than half a billion pounds,” Hayes said
“I pay tribute to the extraordinary commitment, skill and hard work of the King’s team during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I thank them for all that they are doing on behalf of all my constituents at this very difficult time.
“No hospital trust could ever have paid off such a huge debt. But now we must see a significant increase in the annual budget for the trust so that we can put behind us the last 10 years of financial problems at King’s and staff at the hospital can focus on their job – putting patients first and delivering the excellent care the hospital is rightly renowned for.”