CASH-strapped Whiston Hospital has been handed a £13 million bail-out from the Government to help it fulfil its commitments for the forthcoming financial year.

The news allays immediate fears Whiston may have to merge with Warrington Hospital as it struggled to meet the £42 million annual private finance initiative (PFI) repayments.

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is committed to mortgage payments following the PFI which ploughed £350 million into the construction of Whiston and St Helens Hospitals.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “We welcomed the Government announcement last year that it is one of seven Trusts which is eligible to receive financial support for its PFI commitments.

“The trust has received £13 million to meet the PFI payment for this financial year, and has had positive assurance that the Government will make this assistance recurrent in the future.”

MP Dave Watts said: “The immediate news is that it takes away the uncertainty for the next financial year, although it still doesn’t relieve the long-term problems of the trust.

“I still plan to have a meeting with the secretary of state (Jeremy Hunt) and look to resolve this issue so the hospital can get back to what they should be doing – providing the best medical treatment. For at least 12 months the trust was unsure what funding it was due to receive, but there is nothing new that can point to a change in the situation and relieve that uncertainty.”