BRIGHTON’S main hospital is now out of financial special measures for the first time in almost two years.

But there is still work to do to improve the quality of the care it provides.

The Trust that runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital has improved its finances since an inspection in August 2016.

The NHS put the Trust in financial special measures in October 2016 after a “significant negative deterioration” from its financial plan for 2016/17.

At the time health bosses said the finances were “simply not good enough” and “cause for significant concern”.

And a new leadership team was brought in in 2017 in a bid to turn the Trust’s finances around.

Since then the Trust has improved its financial position and is now on track to hit its target for the year.

It is developing a longer-term financial plan to further cut its budget shortfall.

And NHS accountants will be watching closely to make sure it stays on track.

The Trust remains in special measures for quality after the Care Quality Commission’s inspection report in August 2016.

And it will stay in special measures until the chief inspector of hospitals decides it has made enough progress.

Stephen Hay from NHS Improvement said: “Under the stewardship of Mike Viggers, Marianne Griffiths and the wider leadership team, the Trust has made significant progress.

“This represents a major effort from them as well as staff across the Trust but there remains more to do.

“The Trust must now develop a longer term financial plan that reduces its deficit and at the same time remains focused on improving the quality of its services.

“There is strong evidence to show that high quality care and financial grip go hand in hand and the Trust must ensure that improvements in financial management are maintained while continuing to improve the quality and safety of services for local patients.”

The trust said it had “regained firm control over its finances”.

Since appointing a new executive team at the start of the 2017 financial year, the trust has slashed its deficit by £13million - almost a fifth.

And it has saved more than £20million last year - with a further £30million of savings planed for this financial year.

Chief executive Marianne Griffiths said: “Patient care is our top priority, and the link with sound financial management is undeniable.

“We now have control over our finances and we have achieved this without taking our eye off the goal of delivering excellent patient care. We have also continued to invest in our staff and our facilities during this exceptionally difficult period.

“We still have a distance to go in achieving a balanced budget, but no longer being in special measures for finance is a major milestone on that journey.”

The trust’s projected deficit for the 2018/19 financial year is £55m.

Marianne added: “We have delivered on the deficit reduction plan we made with NHSI and we will maintain our focus and disciplined approach to financial management.

“All of our staff have had a role to play in today’s announcement, and will continue to be central to our financial sustainability moving forwards. Along with the rest of the board and executive team, I would like to thank them for their efforts to date, and for the continued financial focus that they will bring to decisions moving forwards.

“High quality patient care and strong financial management go hand in hand, and I have no doubt that we will continue to improve on both aspects of life at the trust.”