HOSPITAL trusts already struggling financially are being charged higher interest rates on bailout loans from the government.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust are both in financial special measures and will end the year with a deficit.
Trusts around the country struggling to balance the books are getting receiving revenue loans from the Department of Health so they can continue to pay staff and suppliers.
These normally carry interest rates of 1.5 or 3.5 per cent but Brighton and East Sussex, along with other trusts in financial special measures are paying higher.
Brighton and Sussex is being charged six per cent interest on £43m of its £59m revenue loan and East Sussex is six per cent on half of its £54m loan.
The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England.
Policy director Richard Murray told the Health Service Journal: “This underlines just how keen the department is to make life in financial special measures as unpleasant as possible, thereby encouraging other trusts to live within their financial targets.
“However, for the struggling organisations already dependent on Department of Health support, raising the hurdle in this way risks them simply coming back for more money when they cannot make the repayments.
“It feels rather like kicking someone when they’re down.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “An interest rate of six per cent is charged only to providers that are in financial special measures.
“This is to reflect the additional risk in providing this finance during the process of reasserting the financial controls needed.”
At the beginning of each financial year, NHS trusts agree a deficit they will not exceed - called a control total.
Brighton and Sussex is expecting to have a deficit of almost £60m by the end of March compared to a planned £15.5m.
East Sussex Healthcare is currently forecasting a deficit of £43.9m, which is £10.5m worse than planned.
The Department of Health says an interest rate of six per cent is charged only to providers that are in financial special measures.
This is why they were applied to loans for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals and East Sussex Heathcare.
This is to reflect the additional risk in providing this finance during the process of reasserting the financial controls needed.
Providers that do not agree their control total are charged 3.5 per cent interest.
Hospitals across the country are facing continued pressures both operationally and financially.
There are fears the controversial sustainability and transformation plans, which set out healthcare and social care arrangements over a five year period, will lead to NHS trust’s having to make even more savings.
Full details for the plan for Sussex and east Surrey are yet to be published but there are already indications that hundreds of millions of pounds will be lost from NHS budgets.
Campaigners fear this will lead to jobs and services being lost as a result.