Hospitals face a £30m black hole

inset Matthew Kershaw (Chief Executive - Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals) with the Princess Royal Hospital
inset Matthew Kershaw (Chief Executive - Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals) with the Princess Royal Hospital

The new boss in charge of hospitals in central Sussex has warned of a multi-million pound squeeze on the NHS.

Matthew Kershaw, who made recommendations to downgrade Lewisham hospital’s A&E and maternity services in his previous role, said: “We will have to be realistic from the offset about our existing facilities and infrastructure, about the fact there is going to be less money in the system and about the £30million of efficiencies we have no option but to make in the financial year that starts in a few weeks’ time.”

Mr Kershaw, the new chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH), said there will be “difficult decisions” over cutting running costs, but insisted: “What I do not mean by this is slash and burn but a set of changes that deliver on quality, performance and financial objectives.”

Mr Kershaw has the credentials to meet the difficult challenges head on. Before coming to BSUH, he was appointed as special administrator to turn round the fortunes of South London Healthcare Trust, which was put into administration by the previous Labour Government.

He made several recommendations to tackle debts of £150million, which included highly controversial proposals to downgrade the A&E and maternity departments at neighbouring Lewisham Hospital, which have since been endorsed by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Kershaw’s predecessor at BSUH was Duncan Selbie, who became chief executive of Public Health England last year and was widely praised for saving A&E and maternity services at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

BSUH is still awaiting Treasury sign-off on a £400m project to rebuild the front of the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton – parts of which date back to the Georgian era.

However, Mr Kershaw has calmed nerves by saying: “I am sure that the funding for the vital re-development of the County site will be forthcoming.”

The re-development includes a new A&E facility, a helicopter pad and a new home for neurosciences, which will move from Hurstwood Park in Haywards Heath to Brighton as part of a regional trauma centre, treating patients with multiple injuries.

Earlier in his career, Mr Kershaw spent two years as the Department of Health’s director of provider delivery, responsible for pushing trusts through the foundation trust authorisation process. He is uniquely placed to steer BSUH towards foundation status.