Complaint after East Sussex hospital staff given Costa Coffee vouchers

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A member of staff at a hospital has complained after receiving a voucher for a popular coffee chain in their December payslip.

East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital in Hastings, gave each staff member a £5 Costa Coffee gift token to thank them for their work.

But one employee who works at the trust has called for Richard Sunley, acting chief executive, to explain to the public why staff have received the gift.

In an anonymous letter to the newspaper, the member of staff said: “As we all know East Sussex Healthcare Trust is in financial trouble, so please could Richard Sunley tell the public why over 7,000 members of staff each got a £5 Costa coffee gift card in their last pay package.”

However, the hospital trust said the funding for these vouchers is not from NHS money and is donated by a charitable trust.

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare Trust, said: “In recognition of the hard work and dedication of staff over the past year, the directors and trustees of the Trust Charitable Funds wanted to thank staff.

“It has been a challenging year and many staff have gone above and beyond what is expected so, as a small token of appreciation staff have been given a £5 Costa Coffee gift token with their December pay slip.

“Before making this gesture we consulted our Joint Staff Committee who was fully supportive of this as a way of thanking staff for their hard work.

“A lot of staff have since contacted the trust acting chair to say how much they appreciated this gesture.”

In the letter to the Herald, the member of staff said: “I have spoken to many staff and we all say the same.

“We would give up the £5 if the money was spent on something beneficial to patients.”

The writer also questioned if the money might have been better spent on the cancer unit, which ‘cannot be finished to lack of funds’.

However a spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare Trust said the cancer unit at the Eastbourne DGH site is run by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

He added: “The funding for these vouchers is from the Trust Charitable Funds which supports staff from donations made to the trust for the benefit of staff.

“It is stressed these gift tokens were not funded from NHS money.”

East Sussex Healthcare Trust has had a turbulent year, with the resignation of Darren Grayson, former chief executive and Stuart Welling, chairman of the trust stepping down.

In September 2015, it was revealed the trust would be placed in special measures and would receive additional support following an inadequate inspection from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

However, staff at the trust were praised by inspectors as ‘committed and caring’ despite the ‘disconnect’ between staff and management at the hospital.

The trust is aiming to pull itself out of special measures within a year.

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