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By Ian Dipple Thursday 01 November 2012 Updated: 02/11 08:29
HOSPITAL bosses are at loggerheads with their NHS paymasters after demanding they are paid the full cost of treating the thousands of extra patients seen through A&E so far this year.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has had its payments reduced to just 30 per cent of what it would normally receive after treating more patients than agreed.
Since April it has had to pay back more than £2million to commissioners NHS Worcestershire, plunging it almost £4million into the red.
The deal between the two was based on a reduction in emergency admissions of 20 per cent but since November last year demand has been steadily increasing at both the Worcestershire Royal and Alexandra Hospital, and is currently 13.7 per cent higher than the same time last year.
The Trust has now billed NHS Worcestershire for the full amount owed, which if paid would put its financial plan back on track with a deficit of £1.9million - in line with expectations and putting the Trust on course to deliver a small surplus by the end of the current financial year.
But there is no guarantee the bill will be paid as commissioners have previously refused saying it is not affordable, an answer the Trust says is unacceptable.
Chris Tidman, the Trust's director of resources, said negotiations were still ongoing and he was hopeful the bill would be paid but if not they would need to bring in outside help to reach a deal between the two.
"We are asking to be fully reimbursed for the extra costs we have incurred and additional capacity we have had to provide and it's in line with what other health economies across the country are doing at the moment where there is a rise in demand. We also have some sympathy from the Strategic Health Authority who have asked the PCT to reconsider their position but there's no agreement to pay it," he said.
"I'm staying positive it will be paid, all the evidence is in our favour. If we can't resolve this locally then we would need to escalate it to the next level and seek some form of arbitration. We are still talking and I'm still hopeful we can reach a resolution."
A spokesman for NHS Worcestershire said: "NHS Worcestershire is complying with national rules whereby the 70 per cent has been invested in community care. In addition the PCT is providing £10m worth of transformational change monies to the Trust this year including £3.65m directly linked to emergency access."
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