I was shocked and disappointed to read allegations in HSJ that Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust could be merging with or have its services taken over by Frimley Park Hospital foundation trust. There is absolutely no truth in this suggestion as reported by Helen Mooney (news, page 5, 19 April. Click here for HSJ's correction to this story.)

I was shocked and disappointed to read allegations in HSJ that Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust could be merging with or have its services taken over by Frimley Park Hospital foundation trust. There is absolutely no truth in this suggestion as reported by Helen Mooney (news, page 5, 19 April. Click here for HSJ's correction to this story.)

I would have expected a well respected publication like HSJ to check the validity of such information prior to putting this in print. Neither ourselves nor our colleagues at Frimley Park were given the opportunity to comment on or refute this unfounded rumour. The quality of the source is to be doubted especially as you report that Frimley Park foundation trust is 'Sussex based' when it is on the Surrey-Hampshire border, some 35 miles distant from this trust.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust has achieved significant financial and operational improvements over the past eighteen months and can no longer be regarded as a financially failing organisation, albeit we are still a financially challenged organisation. In the past twelve months the trust has halved its deficit by£14m, based on the hard work of our staff under the turnaround programme. We have delivered on last year's.financial commitments we made last year, are on track to reach monthly financial break-even in the coming year and achieve operational break-even. Will be working with our strategic health authority to determine a long-term solution.

A major part of our turnaround has been to recruit and retain high-calibre staff with whom we have been working hard to build morale, which is tangibly different to 18 months ago.

Unfortunately this type of article throws major doubt into the minds of our staff, questions the integrity and trust of the management of this organisation and undermines everything our team have been working for.

Gail Wannell, chief executive, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust.

News story an 'unfair and entirely avoidable kick in the teeth'

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals is not one of the Department of Health's 18 financially challenged trusts. We are not being threatened with closure, merger or split.

I would have expected a journal of the HSJ's reputation to check that they have all their facts correct before going to press rather than making things up to fill the gaps in a half-written story.

This trust has delivered an unprecedented level of financial recovery this year. We have achieved our agreed target of saving£15m to reduce our deficit from£21m to£6.3m.

.In 2006-07 we also improved our reference cost position to 97.5 per cent,.which is 2.5 per cent.below average. This demonstrates that as well as making massive financial savings we are also achieving sustainable improvements to the efficiency of our services.

Delivering financial recovery on this scale has required an enormous amount of effort and dedication from staff throughout the whole trust. We have had to look really critically at how we do things and change the way we deliver many of our services but we are a stronger and more efficient organisation for having done so.

The type of sloppy journalism displayed in this article is an unfair and entirely avoidable kick in the teeth for those of us who are working as hard as we can to provide the best possible healthcare for patients within the resources available.

Peter Coles, chief executive, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals trust.

Hitlist was 'speculative and wrong'

My colleagues and I are deeply disturbed by your article, and in particular the inclusion of this trust in your speculative list of those likely to be closed, merged or split..

We are not on the DoH list..In fact:

  • for the financial year just ended we will be reporting a break-even position, perhaps slightly better;
  • for the new financial year we have set a balanced budget;
  • we have prepared a long-term financial model up to the year 2015, which has been accepted by the strategic health authority and which shows the trust is financially viable;
  • that model includes repayment of our accumulated deficit over five years.

In short, we were in a desperately difficult position a year ago but, with the hard work and commitment of our staff, we have achieved what we said we would for this year. There is more to do but we are on course to achieve next year's position.

In the light of that success in turning round our position, it is of concern that public and staff confidence, which we are working to rebuild, should be knocked by your irresponsible speculation. Also we are currently in the process of recruiting a substantive chief executive and this inaccurate information is hardly likely to encourage the high-quality candidates we are seeking...

I appreciate this article is carefully written so that it does not actually state that the list included has come from an authoritative source. However, that is the impression given and any typical reader will miss the subtlety..Your speculation will be taken as fact and our rebuttals will be treated sceptically on the basis that 'there is no smoke without fire'..

Mike Brereton, chair,.University Hospital of North Staffordshire trust.

News error ignores the good work

I write to correct an error in HSJ today. You have our trust listed as one of the trusts 'likely to be closed, merged or split', in the West Midlands. This is not correct. I am not sure where you obtained this information from, but someone should have checked this with the trust before going into print. This is not good journalism.

We have worked exceptionally hard over the past twenty months to improve our financial position and maintain our clinical contribution to patients and the wider population. Publication of inaccurate information is irresponsible and damaging to the thousands of people who work in the NHS and who receive care. You are putting concerns into the minds of people who receive care from our hospital about their long-term care viability.

We are currently advertising for senior management appointments within the trust. I am concerned that articles like this.will have a serious impact on our ability to recruit suitable candidates who will help us move forward..I appreciate you have a role to fulfil, but would ask that in future you contact any organisation you are going to implicate to verify the accuracy of the facts.

Margaret Bamford, chair, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital trust