Mounting pressure for hospital trust leads to rising debt

NHS bosses are struggling against mounting debts due to increased pressure at the Conquest Hospital.

East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital on The Ridge, is already £6 million in the red.

The grim news was revealed at a board meeting on Wednesday.

Andy Horne, the trust’s interim director of finance, said the mounting debt was due to increased pressure on the workload.

He said the trust had overspent by £742,000 in its monthly budget for November.

So far the trust, which also runs the DGH, has seen an unexpected 1,499 extra patients being referred into hospital by their GPs since April 1, the start of the organisation’s financial year.

There has also been a rise of almost two per cent in patients’ operations across both hospitals, compared to last year.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds has also been spent on outside agencies to recruit staff and extra ad-hoc clinics throughout the year to cope with demand.

Earlier this year the trust took out a £6 million loan to help clear debts and cover things like unexpected demand on its services.

It has to pay off the loan over the next four years.

The number of patients stuck needlessly in hospital is also causing concern for hospital management.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mr Horne said: “Between the DGH and the Conquest there are two wards full of delayed transfers of care and that has been increasing throughout the year.”

He said the number of people stuck in hospital, which varies each week, depended on the level of suitable care placements for patients in the community.

Darren Grayson, the trust’s chief executive, said there was a ‘mismatch’ in what was available outside hospital compared to the number of patients in need.