Health bosses confident despite £4.8m overspend

HOSPITAL bosses are confident their finances will be back on track by the end of the financial year, despite a current overspend of £4.8m.

The East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust, which runs The Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital, has spent the last 12 months battling to keep its spending under control.

In October chief executive Darren Grayson warned the trust board that finances had reached a “critical stage”.

After several months of overspending, Mr Grayson estimated the trust would be £19million in the red by the end of this financial year if the current spending trends continued.

But following on from what has been described as a ‘positive’ November, December’s deficit was £0.5m - less than the £1.6m predicted.

The trust says this was due to higher than planned income, cost reductions and transitional income support from the Primary Care Trust (PCT).

This means the total trust overspend increased less than expected from £4.3m at the end of November to £4.8m at the end of December.

The trust had previously said it hoped to have a surplus of £1.3m at the start of the 2012/13 financial year.

But on the basis of receiving £13.7m from the primary care trust rather than the £15m expected, the forecast is now for a breakeven, rather than a surplus.

Stuart Welling, chairman, reminded board members: “Financially we are in a very difficult place.

“We always knew 2011/12 was going to be difficult, and 2012/13 was going to be more difficult.”

There are some areas the Trust still appears to be struggling with, financially.

Staff pay and ad hoc costs are cumulatively overspent by £10.3m.

Of the Trust’s £30m savings programme, so far just £16m has been identified.