An NHS trust's £390,000 payment to a financial consultancy, hired for six months to tackle a £12m debt, has led to anger among patients and staff.
Patients and staff are said to have reacted with anger to the payment
Concerned clinical staff told BBC South East that the independent consultant's contract may also be renewed.
The consultant who uncovered details of the payment and passed the information to colleagues has since been suspended.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS said the payment was a small percentage of annual savings.
Trust finance director David Dumigan confirmed that Sherwood Advisory Services had been commissioned at a cost of £390,000 for a six-month period to support the trust in achieving its "challenging savings programme".
He said: "At the time of commissioning this work we also received quotations from other organisations and Sherwood Advisory Services represented the best value for money."
And he added: "It is important that this is viewed in context of what we are trying to achieve - savings of £12m this year and £25m in total by 2008.
"This as a one-off payment is a very small percentage of these annual on-going savings and is in line with investment made by other trusts."
The trust refused to comment on the suspension of consultant neurologist Dr Angus Nisbit who brought the payment to the attention of staff.
Janice Kent, from the Patient and Public Involvement Forum, said: "I think that patients are very angry and the staff are very angry.
"They are batting away at the coal face very hard and there is someone who is receiving this huge income."
She added: "They are looking at reducing staff so patient care is going to be very severely affected if there are more cutbacks, and staff can't continue like this forever."
In July, it was revealed that the trust, which runs five hospitals, would axing 500 jobs in order to save £12m.
At the time, chief executive Peter Coles said more than 100 beds would close, consultant sessions would be reduced, and non-clinical budgets would be cut by up to 15%.