By Ian Dipple 01/08 Updated: 01/08 11:52
URGENT talks are being held to stem the increase in emergency admissions at the Alexandra Hospital and Worcestershire Royal after the trust which runs them was 'fined' for treating too many people.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is having to pay back £1.3million of its income to commissioners NHS Worcestershire for going over the agreed threshold for the number of people admitted through A&E.
About 826 more patients have been seen so far this year than planned and for every person above the set limit the Trust treats, it only receives 30 per cent of the normal price. The money will be used to fund schemes designed to reduce emergency admissions.
SInce November both hospital sites have seen a spike of in demand through A&E of about ten per cent, meaning bosses have had to turn to more expensive agency staff to cope. It is also derailing the Trust's financial plan delaying the implementation of the £15million of savings they need to make this year and has seen it plunge £2.7million into the red after just three months of the financial year.
It was expected the deficit would be £2million before recovering and at least breaking even later on.
Finance director Chris Tidman said as a result the Trust was talking with NHS Worcestershire - responsible for buying in health services for the county - to demand additional payment for the extra workload as well as find a long-term solution.
"We can't underestimate the impact that is having at a time where we need to be reducing capacity and, in some cases, taking beds out of the system," he said.
"We need to go back to the commissioners and say what are you doing to stem the flow of patients coming through the door but in the meantime there needs to be appropriate reimbursement for the step in admissions.
"Our priority is to treat the patient and safely, with appropriate staff levels. If that costs more then we are within our right to go to the commissioners and say there's a consequence."
Chairman Harry Turner said with winter on the way - when there is traditionally more pressure on hospitals - the situation could turn into a 'five or six million pound problem'.
"As a board we need to see something more quickly in terms of a financial solution but preferably in terms of demand managment and quickly."
A spokeswoman for NHS Worcestershire said the Trust was not being fined but the lower payment level had been triggered because of the surge in demand.
"NHS Worcestershire is working very closely with the Trust to understand the reasons for this activity, and continues to provide the Trust with significant support over and above agreed contractual levels to help manage demand and cost pressures."
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