Experts brought in to help tackle trust debt problem

A TEAM of accountants have been drafted in by hospital managers to help shape up the NHS trust’s debts.

Bosses at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest and its sister hospital Eastbourne DGH, are working with accountancy firm Ernst and Young to try and clear a £6 million deficit, amassed over the last year.

Hospital managers have set themselves a target of trying to save £30 million over the next year.

At a trust board meeting on Wednesday, David Meikle, director of finance, said: “We are still in a very challenging position and were expecting to be doing better than this over the last two months.

“We are working with external support but it’s not good news at the moment.”

The trust’s interim chairman, Steve Tinton, asked why the organisation’s finances were in such poor shape so early on in the new financial year, which began on April 1.

Andy Horne, director of development, said the scale of the savings programme the trust faced was huge.

He said: “I don’t think we will be the only organisation struggling but we have a good management programme in place so we can deliver the right efficiency savings that is expected of us.”

Darren Grayson, the trust’s chief executive, said: “We are looking at resolving several years of financial problems. We had financial support from the Government for five years and this year there is no support. This year is the first one in our £100 million savings programme over the next few years. We have a mountain to climb.”