WHILE of course it is welcome that our NHS trust is receiving money to invest in new equipment (Gazette, October 24, '£34m agreed for new equipment'), surely it is legitimate to question the whole basis of NHS funding.

I retired as an NHS finance director some 18 years ago and, while I accept change is inevitable, I have to say NHS financing seems to have descended into Alice in Wonderland farce.

The trust has received an emergency loan to purchase this equipment. A quick scan of the trust's accounts shows it already has loans of at least £54.4 million, the principal of which is due to be repaid early in 2020. However, the annual accounts state "it is anticipated that repayment terms will be extended".

Given that your report notes the trust has a financial deficit of £60 million, when will these loans be repaid? Indeed the financial position of the trust is much worse than a £60 million deficit. The accounts show that in the last year the operating deficit was £73 million and the cumulative deficit is £275 million. When does an organisation become technically insolvent?

It is not just the deficit that causes concern; it is the fact the trust has to pay interest on these loans; in the last financial year, interest paid amounted to £4 million and, I presume, will be even higher this year. This is wasted money that will no longer be available for patient care.

The savings plans referred to in your article are nothing but a piece of sticking plaster but cause real problems for patients. The chief executive, who we mustn't forget was until quite recently the finance director, refers to "the result of a lot of hard work, not just now, but over the past five or six years" - on what, I wonder?

Isn't it about time the Government and local NHS bodies were totally honest about the dire financial situation in the NHS and came up with honest plans to sort out the mess? As a first step, writing off historical debts would be the way to go.

David Thomas