Hospital cash crisis is ‘unchartered waters”

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DGH bosses say the hospital is in ‘unchartered waters’ after running out of money.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the DGH and the Conquest, faces a staggering deficit of £19.4million pounds this year. The Trust revealed the figures at a board meeting on Wednesday where Vanessa Harris, director of finance, explained the cash flow problems. Initially it was hoped that the financial year of 2013/14 would see a surplus of £1.6 million but since the draft figure was mooted the trust learnt that it would not be receiving the £16 million it had previously received in 2011/12. The huge deficit was revealed as it emerged that the trust plans to deliver £20million worth of savings this financial year and Ms Harris said it was important to deliver this programme.

She added that a significant amount of money was spent on temporary staff and that the trust should be paying creditors within 30 days but this had not always been achieved, adding, “We have absolutely prioritised payment of our suppliers that provide medical or patient equipment.”

Despite the £19.4 deficit, she added, “We will not allow quality and safety to be impacted because that remains the number one priority for the trust.”

During the meeting the trust board said a temporary loan of £15 million would be applied for which it expected to receive next week.

The trust’s chairman Stuart Welling said, “It’s fair to say we’re in unchartered water on the financial situation this year. We’re not alone in this situation, it’s not just ESHNT.”

Trust chief executive Darren Grayson said, “Last year was a tough year financially, we finished the year with a small surplus.

“We are in a very difficult position coming into this financial year. It’s worth noting that the income to the trust for this financial year is £30million less than it was last year.”

Liz Walke, chairman of the Save the DGH group, said afterwards that the trust should de-merge, adding, “I think ESHNT Board need to take a long hard look at themselves and the organisation and see that they cannot continue.

“The finances are dire – how are they going to cover a deficit budget and make savings when they have been bailed out year on year?”