Once in a lifetime opportunity for London's NHS to balance books and deliver better patient care

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Responding to the announcement today that primary care trusts (PCTs) in London are proposing to wipe out the historic NHS debt across the capital, The King's Fund's Chief Economist John Appleby said:

'This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the NHS in London - it's vital that health services in the capital are redesigned and reconfigured to make sure we never find ourselves in this position again.

'The capital stands on the verge of major changes to the way health services are delivered to Londoners. Today's announcement will go a long way to securing better health services in the capital and helping the NHS to really focus on delivering high quality services.

'However, to ensure this measure won't be seen as rewarding poor financial management, NHS London must be satisfied that the root cause of the financial problems facing the handful of trusts receiving the bail out won't return in a few years' time due to underlying and persistent problems that haven’t been resolved. Reform is needed for these trusts so they become more financially stable and don't rack up new debts – they will need robust plans in place to ensure they balance their books in future.'

He added: 'After some years of working on the causes of deficits to get organisations into balance, there remain some that still struggle. But this is not necessarily due to poor financial management. However, patients and the public will demand to know that the capital's health service will remain on a much sounder financial footing now we are effectively starting from a blank sheet.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
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