The NHS trust which runs the Conquest Hospital is no longer in special measures and legal directions placed on Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford and Hastings and Rother clinical commissioning groups have been lifted.
NHS South East announced the news today (Thursday, July 11) and said the financial health of the NHS in East Sussex has improved significantly.
As part of the work to integrate NHS Improvement and NHS England, the south east region adopted a new, more integrated approach to working with the NHS in East Sussex to help stabilise its financial position.
NHS South East said as a result of working together, the trust and CCG reduced their shared deficit, met their financial targets for 2018/19 and developed a shared financial plan for the next five years.
NHS Improvement placed the trust in special measures for financial reasons in October 2016 because of a significant negative deterioration from its financial plan for 2016/17.
NHS England placed the CCGs under legal directions in July last year.
Both special measures and legal directions are regulatory steps that require a trust or CCG to take action that improves their financial planning, management and decision making.
Anne Eden, the regional director south east said: “The direction of travel for the NHS is clear. Locally, organistions must work together if they are to transform services for patients in the way the NHS long-term plan describes.
“The scale of the financial challenge in East Sussex was significant. Adam Doyle, the chief executive officer of the CCGs, and Dr Adrian Bull, chief executive of the trust, have shown the difference working together can make. Strong financial planning and management will lay the foundations to help deliver the ambition of the long-term plan in East Sussex.”
A spokesman for the trust said it had met its challenging financial target last year, reducing its financial deficit to under £45 million.
This was an improvement of more than £10 million on the previous year. The trust has nearly halved its monthly deficit since 2016, the spokesman added.
Steve Phoenix, chairman of the board of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), said: “This decision recognises the important progress the trust has made and the confidence our regulators have in our local leadership. Although we still a have long way to go, I’m confident we are heading in the right direction to achieve financial balance.
“All members of staff have had a role to play in these improvements, and they will be central to our continued progress. On behalf on the whole board, I would like to thank them for their work and for their focus on providing high quality care for our local communities. I would particularly like to recognise the contribution from our clinical, executive and non-executive leadership, which has been essential.
“Financial management goes hand in hand with proving excellent care and I look forward to working with members of staff, our board, our partners and our local communities as we continue to improve.”
Dr Adrian Bull, ESHT chief executive, said: “I am delighted NHS Improvement and NHS England have decided ESHT should no longer be in special measures for financial reasons.
“This follows their decision in June last year, on the recommendation of the CQC, that we be removed from special measures for quality reasons.
“This decision shows that good financial management has been restored. Our financial progress is a direct result of the improvements we have made to the efficiency and effectiveness of the care we provide and the work we do in all parts of the organisation.
“By providing high quality, timely care to our patients, we are becoming more financially sustainable. These improvements have depended on the collaboration we have had with partner organisations in East Sussex - in particular the close working relationship with Social Services and our local commissioners.
“Our system-wide approach to our finance challenge was supported by the joint regulation of the trust and local CCGs established by our regulators. This, and the support given by Sussex and East Surrey STP, has meant the East Sussex health system is now one of the most financially improved systems in the country.
“As ever, this is not the end of the improvements we need to make. We still have a significant and challenging financial target this year. However, I am confident that by working together, with a continuous focus on the quality of care that we provide, it is a target we will meet.”
The trust said since it was placed in financial special measures in October 2016 it has worked to reduce the length of time patients stay unnecessarily in hospitals, reduce falls and pressure ulcers that lead to harm, reduce spending on temporary staff and increase recruitment to permanent posts, increase staff health and wellbeing and reduce staff sickness, reduce cancelled appointments and increase theatre efficiency, drive down costs of high cost medicine and medical devices, increase joint working between Adult Social Care and community services, develop digital capacity and spend less on costly manual systems and put in place stronger controls, improved reporting, and strengthened planning.