East Sussex NHS Trust debt nearly £4m over target

Image caption The trust says it has been hard to make sufficient savings with reduced income

A Sussex NHS trust has admitted that it expects its debt to be almost £4m more than initially predicted.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Eastbourne and Hastings, now predicts a deficit of £23.1m, up from £19.4m.

It says it has struggled to achieve the required savings because of higher costs and an income reduced by £20m.

It pointed out it had still managed savings of £17.5m while achieving a generally acceptable level of service.

'Huge financial challenge'

The trust, responsible for Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Conquest Hospital, near Hastings, appointed a "turnaround" team in October in a bid to get its budget under control.

But director of finance Vanessa Harris says in a report to the trust's board that rising patient expectations and NHS infrastructure changes have created "a demanding backdrop".

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has called for a "mass clearout" of managers.

He said: "We need people coming in, a new chief executive, new chairman, new board, to get on top of the debt issue that has been growing for years."

The trust said in a statement: "What this shows is that although the trust has made substantial progress in becoming more efficient and effective, the East Sussex health economy - like the NHS as a whole - has a huge financial challenge to ensure it can meet the needs of the local population in the future."

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