£3.6m to bail out Eastbourne

HEALTH managers in 1066 Country have handed over £3.6 million to Eastbourne NHS chiefs to help them clear their debts, it has been revealed.

Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which holds the purse strings for local health services, agreed last May to give the huge sum to Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG.

But the decision was only revealed this week following a Freedom of Information request to the CCG made by borough councillor Mike Turner and his son Nick, a researcher for the NHS Support Federation, a pressure group that campaigns for better health services.

Cllr Turner, who represents Hastings Borough Council on East Sussex’s Health and Wellbeing Board, blasted the move.

He said: “Hastings suffers from every aspect of health deprivation, more so than any other area of East Sussex. They (NHS bosses) are taking money away from the most deprived town and giving it to somewhere with better healthcare facilities. Hastings has the worst health gap. A resident living in an area of multiple deprivation in Hastings will live, statistically, 14 years less than a resident in an affluent area of Eastbourne or Hailsham or even our own town. This £3.6 million could have been legitimately spent on keeping Mount Denys and the Pinehill centre open. It also could have been used towards bringing in more doctors, as Hastings has a shortage. The hospital is also telling us that it can’t get enough consultants in, so this £3.6 million could have gone a long way.”

Rob Hustwayte, CCG spokesman, said: “In 2013/14, NHS England required CCGs to hold two per cent of their budgets in reserve, to be used for one-off expenditure. Hastings and Rother CCG agreed at its public meeting last May, with NHS England approval, that £3.6 million of this reserve be transferred to support Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG’s deficit budget. Arrangements for this funding to be transferred back to Hastings have been built into both CCGs’ five-year plans.

Dr Roger Elias, chairman of Hastings and Rother CCG: “There is no question of Hastings and Rother missing out as a result of this temporary transfer of funds. We are fully committed to making best use of the budget allocation we receive in Hastings and Rother to improve health outcomes for local people and reduce health inequalities.

“This will be a key part of our commissioning activities over the next few years.”