Hospital trust facing ‘doomsday scenario’

HOSPITAL chiefs admitted they have abandoned plans to stay in the black, despite making more than £20 million in savings.

Overtime payments and emergency surgeries have cost the NHS Trust which runs Eastbourne DGH any chance of making its target £1.7 million surplus.

Although hospital managers have slashed £21.6 million from its yearly spend, they confessed even their most optimistic projections saw them only breaking even at a board meeting on Wednesday.

An added worry is the Trust is yet to secure £6 million funds from health authorities.

In what one board member described as a ‘doomsday scenario’, East Sussex Hospitals Trust could finish the financial year £6 million in the red.

Director of finance David Meikle said, “If you look at the savings planned the surplus becomes under pressure and it’s my judgment, at this point in time, we will break even.

“I am assuming we don’t receive any of that £6 million additional income, but that’s a prudent assumption based on the fact we’re still talking to the commissioners and making our case as to why we are due that additional income.”

Trust non-executive director Robert Smart questioned the business sense of factoring the loss into its financial plan.

But chief executive Darren Grayson said the Trust was sure of its strategy. “This is not a company, this is the NHS and things are different, profoundly different and more complex,” he said. “We can give the board the assurance that the tactical judgement is based on a thorough assessment and a long and successful track record,” Mr Grayson said.

Mr Meikle said a recent recruitment drive will hopefully reduce the need for expensive temporary staff and drive down costs in the coming months.

Outgoing Trust chairman Irene Dibben said, “We have always said it will go to the wire.”