Trust could be fined up to £500,000 for Queen Alexandra Hospital handover delays

An archive picture of ambulances outside QA Hospital
An archive picture of ambulances outside QA Hospital

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THE trust that runs Queen Alexandra Hospital could be fined almost half a million pounds for handover delays caused in two months.

As previously reported, patients are waiting for hours every month before being admitted to A&E.

Figures show there have been big increases in waiting times for people being transferred from South Central Ambulance Service (Scas), to QA, in Cosham.

NHS guidelines state a patient coming into A&E on blue lights should be transferred into the hospital’s care within 15 minutes.

If the hospital trusts fail to meet that, then a penalty is issued.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), which came into effect in April this year, pay for health services to be provided.

QA is served by many CCGs – predominantly Portsmouth, Fareham & Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire.

For each delay over 30 minutes, CCGs can place a fine of £200, and more than an hour can mean a fine of £1,000.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, has recorded 446 cases over 30 minutes, and 389 patients, that had to wait more than an hour in April and May this year.

This means PHT could be asked to pay a penalty of £478,200, for the first two months of this financial year.

Jo Gooch, chief finance officer for the CCGs, said: ‘We pay PHT a certain rate (to provide services), but if they are not meeting the standards, they have to pay some of it back.

‘The hospital trust doesn’t want to be penalised, so it is an extra incentive to reduce handover delay numbers.

‘We haven’t agreed the penalties for this year so far.

‘We take stock each quarter and will speak to PHT in late August, to see where we’re at.’

In addition to handing out fines, CCGs must also pay fines imposed by ambulance trusts, due to delays.

Scas can charge commissioners £2.44 per minute for handover time longer than 15 minutes.

The CCGs say they are working with PHT and Scas to improve the figures.

Alex Berry, chief commissioning officer for the CCGs, said: ‘We have been doing quite a lot of work to find out the cause. We’re looking at who is coming into A&E, why they are, and at what times.

‘We need to make sure people are being treated in the right place at the right time.

‘We need to see what we can do with out-of-hours services and if there’s blockages in the A&E system.’