Health team defends financial position

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The healthcare trust which runs some services at Crawley Hospital has said it was wrongly listed in a Government report as being in financial difficulty.

The Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) was highlighted by the Audit Commission as being one of 19 trusts, which had been referred to the Secretary of State for Health after failing to meet the ‘break-even duty’.

SASH runs East Surrey Hospital in Redhill and provides some services at Crawley Hospital and Horsham Hospital.

A spokesman for the trust said although it had taken out a loan to rectify its past financial problems, the situation had improved significantly.

She added: “Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was wrongly listed as a trust that was in financial difficulty.

“Actually, this trust has delivered small cash surpluses in the last two years, and in the last seven years it has had just one year of deficit.

“The referral to the Secretary of State for this trust is about historic deficits that the trust incurred prior to 2006/07 when the trust did have some money issues.

“The trust chose to cover those historic deficits with a loan that it has successfully and almost repaid. The trust has been able to continue to invest in its services and get it to its current strong reputation for delivering safe and high quality healthcare.”

Paul Simpson, chief finance officer added: “Everyone knows money is tight in the NHS and there are always challenges in making the money stretch to meet the demands on hospital services but our trust is in good financial shape, which means we are able to concentrate on caring for our patients.”

A spokesman for the Audit Commission said: “The period over which trusts are required to break even is usually three years but can be extended to five years. The break-even duty is met if expenditure is covered by income over the three or five-year period.

“This was not the case for Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust as at March 31 2014, which is why the auditor made the referral to the Secretary of State for Health.”