NHS must reclaim £444m foundation trust surplus, says RCGP

Foundation trusts should be banned from holding multi-million pound surpluses when many providers are in severe financial distress, RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada has said.

Dr Gerada: foundation trust surplus must be reclaimed

Her comments came after an NAO report revealed that the NHS has an existing total surplus worth £2.1bn, but a quarter of this is held by foundation trusts and cannot be reclaimed by the DH.

The total net surplus held by NHS foundation trusts in 2011/12 was £444m, including those which gained foundation status that financial year.

In 2011/12 there were 143 foundation trusts and 122 of these were in surplus.

But although the NHS cannot claw back surpluses from foundation trusts, a minority were among financially struggling organisations bailed out by the DH over the last year.

In 2011/12 the DH spent £253m bailing out trusts, a three-fold increase from the year before. Over the next 12 months this figure is likely to rise to £300m, the NAO said.

Dr Gerada said that all available NHS funding should be ‘distributed according to need.’

‘In the current system surplus can’t be used to help struggling trusts,’ she said.

‘The DH should be able to reclaim the surplus from trusts to give to places with greater demands. At a time when GPs are heaving under workloads, foundation trusts shouldn’t be allowed to sit on so much money.

‘We have a national health service,’ Dr Gerada said. ‘The money doesn’t belong to the foundation trusts and should be distributed according to need. Health should not be a market.’

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