Debt-ridden trust has to settle for £1.3m

HOSPITAL chiefs have been handed more than £1 million to help clear debts.

Bosses at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest and its sister hospital, Eastbourne DGH, were hoping to get £6 million from the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), the body that holds the purse strings for NHS trusts.

This would have wiped clean its £6 million debt, amassed over the last 12 months.

But the hospital trust had to settle with £1.3 million instead, leaving it with a £4.7 million debt to start its new financial year.

However managers remained upbeat at their board meeting on Wednesday.

David Meikle, the trust’s director of finance, said: “This is an improvement on the £6 million deficit forecast last month.

“During the last five months of the last financial year the trust also broke even.”

He said the organisation was also seeing far less people being stuck needlessly in hospital, unlike four years ago when the weekly figures were almost 100.

Maurice Rumbold, non-executive director, said this had been a “huge achievement”.

Darren Grayson, trust chief executive, said the £4.7 million deficit was “disappointing”.

We have demonstrated that we can deliver substantial savings while maintaining or improving the quality of care provided to patients. The hard work and dedication of staff at all levels and in all departments means that our performance in the last year overall improved, compared to the previous year.”

Unaffordable overtime payments and emergency surgeries cost the trust any chance of starting the new financial year on April 1 with spare cash. It was aiming to start with a surplus of £1.7 million.

At a board meeting last month Mr Meikle said he hoped a recent recruitment drive would hopefully reduce the need for expensive temporary staff and drive down costs in the coming months.