6:00am Friday 18th October 2013
By Siobhan Ryan
A health trust battling to save millions of pounds has brought in an independent agency to turn its money problems around – at a cost of £275,000.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has appointed finance expert Andrew Murphy from Kingsgate to help it save £10m by the end of March.
Mr Murphy will take on the trust’s turnaround director post and for the next six months will be working with a small team from his company and trust staff to get it back on track.
The trust, which runs Eastbourne District General Hospital and Conquest Hospital in St Leonards and provides community services across East Sussex, is aiming to end the financial year with a deficit of just over £19 million.
However the trust has not been able to save as much as it had planned, partly because of higher than expected costs of appointing temporary staff and patients spending longer in hospital than they need to.
In a message to staff, chief executive Darren Grayson said: “We spend approximately £1 million a day of taxpayers’ money so we have to ensure we only spend what we can afford.
“We simply can’t continue as we are and action needs to be taken immediately.
“Over the next eight weeks there will be a period of intense activity to address the financial situation of this organisation, but not at the expense of quality and safety which will remain our top priorities.
“We will be concentrating on short-term change which delivers fast financial gains. We need to change the way the organisation works and does things and this process is likely to be challenging for us all.
“We will be implementing a number of measures which include reducing agency spend and money spent on ad hoc clinics and third party referrals.
“We will be recruiting more nurses and therapists to reduce our demand for expensive temporary staff.
Call for resignations “We will be reducing the length of stay in many areas to make more efficient use of our beds and making best use of our theatres.”
The trust has already announced plans to close the 32-bed Polegate ward at Eastbourne, which provides rehabilitation and care for patients ready to leave hospital.
The move will save it £500,000.
Save the DGH campaigner Liz Walke, from Eastbourne, said trust board members should resign over the latest developments.
Campaigners are already angry at the decision to downgrade the consultant maternity unit at Eastbourne earlier this year, sending at-risk pregnant women to Hastings instead.
Children’s inpatient services have also moved from Eastbourne to Hastings.
Liz Walke added: “We are hoping this turnaround director will bring about the turning point to the current organisation which we believe is not fit for purpose, demerge the two hospitals and their catchment and do things completely differently.”
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