No ‘bail-out’ for Trust

THE TRUST which runs Eastbourne DGH could start next year with a £6 million deficit after health commissioners said they would refuse to clear its debts.

Although joint health bodies which buy services from East Sussex Hospitals Trust (ESHT) are on course to make significant profits, they have said they will not bail the Trust out.

While the Trust has cut spending by £21.6 million since last April, it still needs £6 million to finish the year in the black.

The Trust has relied on last-minute help from East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust (ESDW) to plug multi-million pound gaps in recent years.

But ESDW and Hastings and Rother PCTs’ joint director of finance is reported to have said that they would not cough up the £6 million unless they were forced to.

A spokesperson from ESDW said, “The PCTs are expected to achieve their planned surpluses for 2010/11 and it is unlikely any significant allocations of additional resources will be available to help ESHT with its position.”

Three-way negotiations are still ongoing and the South East Strategic Health Authority, which allocates funding to PCTs, hopes to steer the Trust and PCTs to a resolution.

At the Trust’s latest board meeting, director of finance David Meikle confessed the Trust would, at best, break even and would certainly miss out on its target £1.7 million surplus.

He also admitted he was not holding his breath for funds from the PCTs.

“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,” he said.

Board members questioned the business sense of factoring the loss into the Trust’s financial forecasts, but chief executive Darren Grayson said he was confident of his strategy to secure the funding.

A spokesman for the Trust said, “Discussions are still ongoing with both the Strategic Health Authority and the local Primary Care Trusts and we are hopeful to get a satisfactory resolution. Any deficit in a financial year is carried over to the next financial year.”