Hospital trust told to save £104m by 2015

HOSPITAL bosses will have to find a mammoth £104 million in savings by 2015.

The stark news was revealed on Wednesday by Darren Grayson, chief executive of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, at the organisation’s annual general meeting.

He said: “The NHS faces a very big challenge over the next 20 to 30 years. It’s had between three to eight per cent increases in funding every year until recently and over the next few years will stay the same. It’s a flat-cash scenario.

“The reality is that the costs of what we do and the demand will go up between four to five per cent each year.

“We need to find £104 million in savings by the end of March 2015.”

The trust is currently aiming to save £22 million this financial year, which ends on March 31, 2013. Mr Grayson said the organisation was on track to achieve this target.

He added: “Our financial performance as a trust has not been good in the past and our commissioners were able to help us, as there was a lot of money around. But that has now come to an end, so we have to stand on our own two feet.

“This challenge should not be underestimated, as the NHS has never done this before.”

By the end of the last financial year, which ended on March 31, the trust had made £14.4 million in savings and the local Primary Care Trust (PCT), which holds the purse strings for hospital services, provided an additional £15.7 million to the trust.

The money came after it went cap in hand to the PCT to help clear its mammoth debts amassed over the previous 12 months.

The hospital trust came under fire earlier this year after it was revealed that it spent more than £4 million on outside consultants between December 2010 and November 2011, a large part of which went to the financial experts, Ernst and Young, to help the trust find ways of saving money.

Around £159,000 from this total went towards on-the-job expenses for the consultants.

The NHS trust, which runs the Conquest Hospital on The Ridge and Eastbourne’s DGH, also spent £1.4 million on locum doctors between April 2011 and April this year.