The NHS trust which runs Brighton’s biggest hospital has been put in financial special measures after bosses told the government it would be more than an agreed £15.5 million in debt by April.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and the Sussex Eye Hospital, is already in special measures because of concerns over the quality of care that it provides.
Last week BSUH told NHS Improvement, which oversees hospital trusts, that it could not keep within its target of being £15.5 million in the red by the end of the financial year. It blamed increased demand and a legacy of financial troubles.
This means that it will receive extra help to balance the books – but key decisions over budgets and spending will be made by NHS Improvement, under the direction of a financial improvement director appointed to work with the trust.
Interim chief executive Gillian Fairfield said: “The trust has experienced financial difficulties for several years and we have made it clear to NHS Improvement that it is no longer credible to continue to work towards meeting their agreed end-of-year deficit of £15.5 million.
“As a trust, we could have continued to work towards our control total but we felt it was important to be open and honest about our finances now to ensure the situation did not deteriorate further.
“In order for us to comply with essential quality and safety standards and meet the CQC (Care Quality Commission) requirements, as well as meet an increasing demand on our services, it is clear that we now need support to recover our financial position over a realistic timeframe.
“We are therefore pleased that we are getting that support and we are fully committed to working with NHS Improvement to help us speed up our financial recovery.”
At the start of the financial year, every NHS trust had to agree a deficit that they would meet by the end of the year, called the control total, and could be placed into financial special measures if it became clear that it would not meet this control total by a significant margin.
The support given to trusts in financial special measures varies depending on their circumstances but generally it means
A trust can exit financial special measures within one to six months if it can illustrate that there is a robust plan in place setting out the key changes required to remedy the financial problems and a detailed delivery plan with evidence of significant improvements within two months of the action plan being developed.
If the trust is unable to do this within six months, NHS Improvement can extend financial special measures for a further three to six months.
BSUH was placed in special measures for quality in August following the publication of a critical CQC report. The trust said that significant progress had been made in addressing the issues that were raised through a safety and quality plan.
Dr Fairfield said: “It is extremely important that any financial measures introduced must not compromise our ability to deliver safe and effective services or our ability to deliver on our safety and quality improvement plan.
“We have been making significant progress to address the issues raised by the CQC and it is important that this is maintained and is joined up with the action plan that will be developed for financial special measures.
“As an organisation, our aim has to be to provide the highest possible standards of care for our patients in a financially sustainable way.”
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