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Nhs Foundation Trusts

Volume 401: debated on Wednesday 19 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) strategic health authorities and (b) primary care trusts will be able to guarantee the borrowing of NHS foundation trusts. [102581]

The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill makes no provision requiring the Secretary of State, strategic health authorities or primary care trusts to guarantee the borrowing of National Health Service foundation trusts. The regime we intend to put in place for managing financial failure will ensure that NHS patients continue to have access to the healthcare they need, free at the point of delivery. The regime will not underwrite institutions that have failed to deliver under the terms of their service agreements and/ or licence.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether NHS foundation trusts will be able to use (a) regulated assets and (b) unregulated assets as security for their borrowing. [102582]

Provisions in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill will prevent National Health Service foundation trusts from using assets protected under the Bill as security for borrowing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the prudential code setting out the basis for determining the serviceability of the debt levels requested by NHS foundation trusts will be placed in the public domain; and when the prudential code will be issued. [102583]

Provision for making and issuing the prudential code is set out in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill. Subject to parliamentary approval, the code will be published by the independent regulator and laid before Parliament during the application period for first wave National Health Service foundation trusts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what limits the independent regulator may place on the borrowing of NHS foundation trusts. [102589]

National Health Service foundation trusts will have complete freedom to access capital, subject to two principal constraints imposed on them by the independent regulator:

their prudential borrowing limit agreed with the independent regulator
prohibition on use of protected assets as security for borrowing
The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill sets out the proposed provisions for the independent regulator to place limits on the borrowing of NHS foundation trusts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to relax the borrowing limits placed on NHS foundation trusts as the number of NHS foundation trusts increases. [102585]

The Secretary of State will not have the power to set or relax the prudential borrowing limits. The regulator will set the prudential code in consultation with Secretary of State, every national health service trust making an application for NHS foundation trust status and other persons that the regulator deems appropriate. In making the code the regulator is to have regard, among other things, to any generally accepted principles used by financial institutions to determine the amounts of loans to nonprofit making organisations.The NHS foundation trust will submit an application for a prudential borrowing limit to the independent regulator, consistent with the prudential code. The regulator will then confirm that the limit applied for is consistent with the guidelines set out in the code.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the launch of NHS initiatives since May 1997 and the cost of each launch. [102088]

The Department makes announcements on a regular basis about the development of Government policy. We do not cost each announcement separately because they are part of the Department's mainstream communications activity.