£13.4 billion in NHS debt has just been erased.
In a move I suspect we all wish we could do to our student loans and mortgage repayments, the UK government has just written off £13.4 billion of historic NHS debt, in a bid to ease financial pressure and free up funds for slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking at the government’s daily briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock – himself laid low by the virus last week – announced the move, saying it will “help NHS trusts to deliver what’s needed without worrying about past finances”. It’s a move that will pay dividends both now and in years to come, as Hancock noted, arguing that “it will ensure that our NHS has stronger foundations for our future too”.
The move comes at a time when healthcare systems in the UK are under pressure like never before, and have been forced into new ways of coping. London’s ExCeL Centre is in the final stages of its transformation into a huge field hospital – billed NHS Nightingale – whilst Britons with 3D printers have started producing protective equipment for frontline healthcare staff. Coming on the same night as another nationwide round of applause for NHS staff and other key workers, the debt waiver could be a huge help to beleaguered trusts.
Also published on Medium.