Hospital resigned to £6m debt

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HOSPITAL chiefs have failed to steer clear of debt after finishing the year £6 million in the red.

Unaffordable overtime payments and emergency surgeries have cost East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest and its sister hospital, Eastbourne DGH, any chance of starting the new financial year with spare cash.

It was aiming to start with a surplus of £1.7 million.

Although hospital managers have managed to slash £21.6 million from its yearly spend, the trust is also yet to secure £6 million in funds from the Strategic Health Authority to help clear its debts.

A decision by the latter is expected by the middle of April at the latest.

At a board meeting on Wednesday, March 30, David Meikle, the trust’s director of finance, said: “I am assuming we don’t receive any of that £6 million additional income, but that’s a prudent assumption based on the fact we’re still talking to the commissioners and making our case as to why we are due that additional income.”

Mr Meikle said a recent recruitment drive will hopefully reduce the need for expensive temporary staff and drive down costs in the coming months.