‘Rapid action’ needed for NHS Trust’s financial situation

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THE FINANCIAL situation at the NHS Trust which runs the Conquest Hospital has reached a “critical stage” due to millions of pounds of overspending according to its chief executive.

In his weekly message to staff at East Sussex NHS Trust, Darren Grayson warned the trust will have overspent by £19 million by the end of the current financial year if current spending trends continue.

The Trust has an average of just under £30m to spend each month. But during the first six months of this year it has been spending between £31m and £32m.

Mr Grayson states: “The financial situation has reached a critical stage and we now have to take rapid action to address the problem.”

The message coincides with the release this month of the trust’s Annual Report.

The financial report states “2010/11 was a very challenging year” and that it expected to have a surplus of cash of £1.5 million.

The report states overall demand for services during the year was in line with expectations but overall the demand outstripped in-house capacity.

And during the year the trust had to take out a working capital loan of £6m to strengthen its cash position while it started to reduce expenditure.

The trust treated more patients than in the previous year in both the Conquest and Eastbourne General.

Almost 120,000 patients were treated in its emergency departments and more than 95,000 provided with hospital care either as inpatients or day cases. In his message, Mr Grayson goes on to state that overspending can not be allowed to happen and details measures being introduced to tackle the problem, which he describes as “slightly draconian”.

These include stopping all discretionary spending by line managers and stringent checks on the use of agency nursing staff.

Mr Grayson warns: “If the situation carries on as it is, then the repercussions for the trust will be severe and every single member of staff will be affected in some way.

“That is why I will not allow us to just spend money we do not have. What is being asked is achievable.

“We just need the Commitment and support of everyone at the Trust to achieve it.”