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NHS: Bank Services

Volume 480: debated on Thursday 16 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the extent to which (a) primary care trusts, (b) strategic health authorities, (c) NHS trusts, (d) foundation trusts and (e) the NHS bank hold deposits in commercial banks; what advice he has given to such NHS organisations on the exposure of such investments to bank collapse; and if he will make such a statement. (227456)

The Department does not collect in-year data for the cash balances of commercial bank accounts held by strategic health authorities (SHAs), primary care trusts (PCTs), NHS trusts or NHS foundation trusts. However this information is reported at the end of the financial year and forms part of an NHS organisation's annual accounts.

For indicative purposes, the following table shows the amount held on deposit in commercial banks or held as cash at the 31 March 2008.

Organisation type

Commercial cash at bank and in hand (£000s)

Strategic health authorities


Primary care trusts


NHS trusts


NHS foundation trusts


In general, the large majority of cash balances held by NHS organisations will be in Government bank accounts with HM Office of the Paymaster General, which all NHS organisations must hold.

SHAs and PCTs may hold commercial bank accounts but in practice the large majority of cash balances of all SHAs and PCTs will be in Government bank accounts. In addition, SHAs and PCTs are discouraged from holding commercial bank accounts by applying a charge to any average cleared balance over £25,000.

National health service trusts are able to hold commercial bank accounts but these are limited by legislation and in practice the large majority of balances for NHS trusts will be held in Government bank accounts.

NHS foundation trusts are autonomous organisations, free from central Government control. As high performing organisations, NHS foundation trusts have wide discretion to invest money. The boards of NHS foundation trusts are responsible for ensuring that surplus cash is invested in accordance with their duty to safeguard and properly account for the use of public money. Monitor, the independent regulator, has issued best practice guidance on how NHS foundation trusts should mange their cash. This guidance reflects prudent practice, and is designed to promote fiscal responsibility and prudent investments that do not compromise effective, efficient and economic delivery of services.

It should be noted the NHS Bank no longer exists.