Cash-strapped NHS trust gets £14m bailout

The under-fire NHS trust which runs the DGH has been given a £14 million bail-out to help clear its mammoth debts.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was forced to go cap-in- hand to the local primary care trust (PCT) and beg for the cash as its management try and earmark £30 million in savings.

The money handed over by the PCT, which holds the purse strings for hospital trusts to run their services, is designed as a one-off payment which should allow hospital bosses to start the new financial year with no debt.

It also includes an additional £1.7 million to help the trust deal with extra patient demand.

The trust, which also runs the Conquest in nearby Hastings, has been trying to clear its massive debts for the last 12 months and recently came under fire after it admitted spending more than £4 million on outside consultants in just under a year.

A chunk of this was paid to financial advisers Ernst and Young – ironically in a bid to find new ways of saving money.

Another £1.4 million went on locum doctors since April 1 last year – with one 24-hour stint alone costing £1,983.

The hope now is that with this cash injection, the trust can start to once again operate on an even keel.

However, David Meikle, the trust’s director of finance and performance, said the organisation needed to find £22 million in savings over the next 12 months and was aiming to end the financial year in March 2013 with a £2.8 million surplus.

He outlined the trust’s business plan for the coming year.

It includes a proposed reduction in beds across both the Conquest and Eastbourne DGH by 46.

In a recent message to all staff at the trust, chief executive Darren Grayson said, “It is an economically challenging time for the country and the NHS in general.

“As with everyone’s personal budget you have to live within your own means and this organisation is no different.

“Next year we need to achieve all our objectives with less money than this current year.

“We need to become more efficient and productive as we are committed to delivering an overall surplus of £2.8 million.”

At a trust board meeting earlier this week, Mr Grayson said both the DGH and Conquest had seen increased demand for their services.