THE health trust operating Queen Alexandra Hospital is pleading with bosses to suspend or scrap fines it is given for missing targets.
The hospital is penalised for missing targets such as failing to get 90 per cent of patients either treated, admitted or discharged within four hours, and when there is a backlog of ambulances waiting at A&E.
...we are writing to all commissioners to say we need to forget about or suspend this fining regime, whether it is for ambulance waits or A&E. We hope they will be removed from next year’s contract.Peter Mellor, of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
But Peter Mellor, of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, is urging local clinical commissioning groups – which fund services at QA – to abolish the charges due to the hospital’s financial situation.
He doesn’t think the hospital should be solely punished for ambulance jams when the root cause may be patients attending who could be directed to their GP or a minor injuries unit instead.
Speaking at a meeting of the city’s health, overview and scrutiny panel, Mr Mellor said: ‘This is a certain problem. We’re under a massive fining policy and there is an implication from the Department for Health that we must resource that.
‘We are looking to make £32m worth of savings.
‘So we are writing to all commissioners to say we need to forget about or suspend this fining regime, whether it is for ambulance waits or A&E. We hope they will be removed from next year’s contract.’
Mr Mellor said 40 per cent of patients who arrive by ambulance are either discharged outside or get sent to their GP.
It comes after 16 ambulances from South Central Ambulance Service were left waiting to transfer patients to the emergency department on Monday night. Some patients waited for over two hours.
But Portsmouth CCG says its following national policy.
Michelle Spandley, its chief finance officer, said: ‘The rules regarding financial penalties within the NHS are set nationally – they are not set locally, and so it is not within our gift to decide whether or not they are enforced, or how they are enforced.
‘It was the Department of Health which brought in the system of fines and penalties a few years ago, to help ensure that patients receive good, and timely care.
‘Although CCGs like ourselves collect the “fines” when they need to be applied, the money remains in the local NHS system.’