Brighton and Worthing hospital trusts explore merger

Posted On 07 Nov 2016 at 4:39 am

The NHS trusts for Brighton and Worthing are exploring a merger as Royal Sussex County Hospital bosses wrestle with a projected £60 million overspend.

Staff have expressed concern about the effect on jobs and patient services.

The proposed merger is part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for the new Coastal Sussex area. It is being led by the chief executive of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Marianne Griffiths.

The emergence of the merger proposal comes shortly after Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) – the NHS trust that runs the Royal Sussex – was placed in “financial special measures”.

As a result the trust, which also runs the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and the Sussex Eye Hospital, is being closely monitored by a regulatory body called NHS Improvement.

Royal Sussex County Hospital 2
The merger proposal and the secretive development of the STP will fuel fears that the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Haywards Heath could be downgraded.

The neurology and neurosciences service has recently moved to the Royal Sussex which is now the regional trauma centre.

Previously trust bosses tried to close the maternity service at the PRH. The plan was dropped after a huge outcry and robust public campaign.

Critics of the STP process are concerned that plans are being drawn up with little or no public input yet may contain controversial and unpopular measures.

Some have pointed to the closure of family doctors’ surgeries as a sign of the challenges facing the NHS – not just in the Brighton and Hove area.

BSUH recorded a deficit of about £45 million last year and has estimated a potential deficit of £60 million this year.

It has an annual budget of £550 million and – as well as being in financial special measures – is also in special measures for the quality of its care.

Royal Sussex County Hospital 2
In contrast Western Sussex Hospitals, which runs Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, was judged to be outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year.

It has an annual budget of almost £420 million and in the past financial year it recorded a deficit of just £8 million deficit.

NHS trusts commonly end the year in deficit at the moment but BSUH was way over even the revised total that it had agreed.

Both BSUH and Western Sussex Hospitals have submitted their contribution towards the STP to NHS bosses overseeing an area covering East Surrey and Sussex. Their plans went in just over a fortnight ago.

A key aim of the STP is to bring the trust finances back into balance across the area.

The STP process in East Surrey and Sussex is being chaired by Michael Wilson, a former deputy chief executive of BSUH.

The merger proposal is expected to be discussed by the current BSUH board within weeks. The board is not expected to be in a position to resist the proposal.

Royal Sussex County Hospital 2
Western Sussex Hospitals’ £250,000-a-year chief executive Marianne Griffiths was asked about the STP at her trust’s board meeting at the end of last month.

She said that she had been appointed the lead for the Coastal Sussex area which covers West Sussex and is one of three areas within the East Surrey and Sussex STP footprint. The other two are East Sussex and the M23 corridor.

BSUH could technically sit within East or West Sussex. Brighton and Hove was formerly in the administrative county of East Sussex while the PRH is in the West Sussex town of Haywards Heath.

But a merger with East Sussex Healthcare – the trust that runs the Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Conquest Hospital in Hastings – is thought to be much less likely.

East Sussex Healthcare has been – like BSUH – rated inadequate by the CQC and is on course for a deficit of £31 million in the current financial year. It has an annual budget of about £365 million.

  1. Mark Wood Reply

    Waiting time to see an endocrinologist at Worthing? 6 months, at Brighton? 6 weeks.
    Efficency in budgeting means only one thing: loss of patient care. This is another brick in the wall for privatisation. This government only lauds ‘democracy’ when it fits their agenda, which is the project of asset stripping what social resources we have left.

  2. Gerald Wiley Reply

    Let’s hope this will result in Brighton & Sussex raising it’s standards to the level of Worthing, rather than Worthing lowering theirs to the level of Brighton & Sussex.

  3. Paul Bunting BSc MSc Reply

    The main current reason for deficits in Hospitals’ finances and for Hospitals in Special Measures is funding cuts by the Government causing staff losses. Demand costs are increasing because of the ever rising costs of new technologies and drugs and the growing population in late age which is vulnerable to accidents and falls requiring admission to Hospital from which discharge is very slow because of the shortage of care home beds. The rising demand contraindicates the funding cuts but this government appears not to be interested in the NHS. The latest assault on the NHS is NHS England’s launch of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan which involves further cuts in NHS funding and threatens closures of Hospital Departments such as A&E or Maternity Units, or even the closure of whole Hospitals.

    • Catherine Glynn-Davies Reply

      I recently met with a local councillor who knew nothing about STP proposals. It worries me that officers like him are ‘rubber stamping’ these proposals without fully understanding the implications for patient care. There seems to be no public consultation, and these plans are not properly thought through in terms of funding and impact. Fewer GPS, less money spent on Mental Health Services and Adult Social Care.

  4. Jacek Zawada Reply

    I agree with Gerald Wiley. The medical expertise in Sussex County is very high but the position as well as the facilities within are deplorable. Attempts to somehow hold the whole building together are futile. Teams of yellow jacketed workers have wandered about for as long as I remember and no visible improvements are apparent. Time to be brave and build brand new hospital away from the town centre, serviced by dedicated transport. Then place Marion Griffiths in charge because she obviously knows what she is doing.

    • Jeremy Hunt Reply

      and the money will come from where exactly??

  5. ANONYMOUS Reply

    I am working for free as they did no pay my bank shift,when they desperate ask me to cover sick people , so I expect not to work any more for them ,

  6. Roger Reply

    The problem with Brighton is that it is too small to justify the grandiose plans for the redevelopment of a Teaching hospital in Brighton.
    The future is in cheap and cheerful hospitals. Like in Chichester , Worthing , Haywards Heath etc.
    If patients need specialist care: send them to London.

    • Chris Reply

      Nail on head.

  7. Rik Reply

    They can’t staff the hospitals they have got why merge with more it’s ridiculous

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