Cash-strapped DGH overpays staff by £180,000

THE cash-strapped hospital trust is owed more than £180,000 in overpayments to staff, it has been revealed.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), which runs both the DGH and the Conquest, said the overpayments affected around 200 staff. An investigation and Freedom of Information request by the BBC last week also revealed that the four neighbouring NHS Trusts in Kent were owed nearly £3 million in total, as more than 2,000 doctors and nurses had been overpaid since 2007.

ESHT had managed to finally balance its books last month, but only after a £16.1 million handout from the local Primary Care Trust (PCT). The organisation was hoping to start the new financial year on April 1 with an extra £2.8 million in its coffers. But because of increased numbers of patients going through the doors at both the DGH and the Conquest over the last 12 months, ESHT only managed to break even.

Both hospitals saw a 1.5 per cent rise in the number of patients, compared to the period from March 2011 to March last year. ESHT had overspent on agency costs, which stood at £8.3 million, as well as on specialist high cost drugs for patients. And in March last year health bosses received a £14 million bail-out to help clear mammoth debts accrued over the previous 12 months. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was forced to go cap in hand to the PCT and ask for the cash.

Trust spokesman Simon Purkiss said, “At East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust overpayment of staff currently stands at £186,164 consisting of about 200 items. The overpayment amount represents 0.072 per cent of the total pay bill for the trust. We employ more than 7,200 staff and predominately overpayment of staff occurs when the payroll system is not updated following a member of staff leaving the organisation.”