NHS seeks £10bn cash boost from hedge funds

Apr 10, 2017 · thetimes.co.uk

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The NHS is in talks with hedge funds about borrowing up to £10 billion to repair hospitals and beef up GP care.

Health chiefs believe that low interest rates mean the NHS has a "golden opportunity" to raise money for infrastructure without relying on the chancellor.

The Times has learnt that health officials have reached the outline of an agreement with one or two hedge funds, as well as other investment companies. However, no deal can be signed without Treasury approval.

Jim Mackey, chief executive of the financial regulator NHS Improvement, is to meet Treasury officials today to urge them to sign off a round of private borrowing to create a central NHS infrastructure fund to which local services can apply.

Health unions called the discussions a "cry for help" from managers. Hedge funds are investment companies, some of which are known for aggressive strategies. Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, has agreed not to ask for more day-to-day funding after a spat with Downing Street this year, and negotiations in Whitehall now centre on cash for infrastructure.

Billions of pounds is needed for buildings, equipment and IT systems to implement Mr Stevens’s vision of tests and specialist care at GP surgeries, rapid-response teams to keep elderly people out of hospital and quicker and better treatment for cancer and mental illness. He warned last month that a lack of cash to get such services up and running was one of the "significant risks" to his plan.

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