The mental health trust that serves Brighton and Hove is looking at ways to cut its spending by £12 million in the current financial year.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Mill View Hospital, the Aldrington Day Hospital and Lindridge care home, all in Hove, has just completed talks with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) over contracts that will dictate much of the trust’s income this year.
But a report from Sam Allen, the trust’s chief executive, to its council of governors, said: “For 2018-19 the trust has a stretching operating plan with the requirement to deliver 4.7 per cent efficiencies (£12 million).
“Service improvement plans are in place … and delivery this year, while possible, will prove challenging and are therefore subject to close scrutiny and review.”
The trust met its financial target for the past year with a modest operating surplus – £200,000 – while working with a budget close to £250 million.
Ms Allen said that the cost of employing agency staff came down by £3 million, helped in part by meeting the target of recruiting 150 nurses.
NHS trusts around the country have been struggling to recruit all the nurses they need but Sussex Partnership ran a sustained campaign resulting in 154 joining the organisation.
These achievements came against a background of staff sickness averaging 4.6 per cent, compared with a target of 3.5 per cent.
The trust has also shared its “towards zero suicide strategy” with other organisations and held a lunch event in Brighton.
Ms Allen also said that she and the chief constable of Sussex Giles York had opened a seminar for staff from the trust and colleagues from Sussex Police and other blue light services on emergency mental health.
The trust and the South East Coast Ambulance Service had since held a meeting as work continues on ensuring people needing mental health care, especially in an emergency, end up in the right place.
Fewer are now being taken to police cells either as a result of being arrested or as a place of safety.
Too many are still believed to end up in the accident and emergency (A&E) department of hospitals such as the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
But the trust still has to rely on placing emergency patients out of area on too many occasions which is financially expensive and often not ideal for patients.
On one recent weekend it is understood that there was only one emergency mental health bed available for admissions across the entire country.
Governor elections are currently under way. Three people from Brighton and Hove are standing for one of the vacancies. They are Jurjen Holsheimer, John Kapp and John Sherwood.
Votes can be cast by the trust’s 8,700 members. The trust’s new chair Peter Molyneux welcomed the new membership strategy which aims to encourage more staff, patients, carers and members of the public becoming members of the trust.