Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, has been named as one of 21 trusts with serious financial troubles which could be put into special measures.

The trust, which runs a range of services at hospitals in Crawley, Horsham, Dorking, Caterham and the Oxted Health Centre, employs about 2,900 staff and has an annual budget of £187 million.

But this week, it was flagged up as one facing money troubles deemed so serious that it could be put under the control of a special administrator.

The news came against the backdrop of the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announcing that South London Healthcare NHS Trust was to become the first in the country to be put under the control of a special administrator, tasked with sorting its money troubles and turning its fortunes around.

The trust, criticised for its standards of care and deficits of more than £150 million run up over the past three years, was said to be losing £1 million a week.

But the Department of Health has also homed in on another 20 NHS trusts which could also find themselves in the same position, including Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

These trusts have been set targets by the Department of Health to improve their performance, but if they do not achieve the goals, and make progress quickly enough, they could also be put into special measures.

A special administrator would take over a trust's board and recommend measures to the Health Secretary to put the trust’s finances on a stable footing.

Some of the beleaguered trusts are in trouble because of taking on expensive Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes, while others have fallen foul of other long-standing issues.

As well as Surrey and Sussex, the list includes Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, Oxford Learning Disability NHS Trust and North Cumbria University Hospital Trust.

But a spokeswoman for Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said while it faces a “challenge,” the Trust is expected to end the year “with a balanced position.”

Stressing that there were no PFI-related problems, the spokeswoman said: “It is well known that historically, the Trust had one of the largest deficits in the country, but we have worked hard to improve our financial situation over recent months, which has been acknowledged by the Department of Health in recent correspondence from them.”

She said: “No-one working at the Trust underestimates the challenge the NHS and the Trust face in meeting its financial targets.

“However, the Trust is expected to break even month by month this year, and therefore end the year with a balanced position as per the budget it set at the start of the financial year.

“As with all other Trusts, we have to make savings this year, and have set a savings plan of £10 million, which has also been budgeted for.

“In addition, we have agreed £15.9 million of transitional funding with our Primary Care Trusts/Clinical Commissioning Groups, which forms part of our contract.”

Regarding the transitional funding, she added: “Last year it was recognised that there was a lack of capacity on the East Surrey site, and therefore, at a time of reductions in the tariff and constriction across the NHS, we were having to invest in infrastructure, staff and services.

“The transitional funding and an increased savings plan in 2013/14 will allow us to catch up and provide a balanced position in 2014/15.”

Earlier this month, the East Surrey welcomed its first royal visitor in its 25-year history, Princess Alexandra, who toured the hospital’s new Endoscopy Suite, Day Surgery Unit and Charlwood and Copthorne Wards, and unveiled a plaque.

The new facilities are part of the Trust's £14 million redevelopment programme, which has also seen a modernised and enlarged Emergency Department and new modular ward building completed there.

This summer, the refurbished Hazelwood ward and the hospital's new main entrance are scheduled for completion.

East Surrey Hospital serves a population of 350,000 residents in East Surrey and North-east West Sussex and is the designated hospital for Gatwick Airport and the M25.