Hospital could face court action

PUBLISHED: 16:24 12 January 2006 | UPDATED: 11:27 04 May 2010

HEALTH chiefs could sue Addenbrooke s Hospital because they claim they are being overcharged for clinical services by £2.9 million. The debt means health officials will have to cut services to patients and reduce the amount of money spent buying in outsid

HEALTH chiefs could sue Addenbrooke's Hospital because they claim they are being overcharged for clinical services by £2.9 million.

The debt means health officials will have to cut services to patients and reduce the amount of money spent buying in outside expertise in a bid to balance the books.

The move comes on top of the trust committing to £9 million worth of savings in the new financial year and leaves it facing a £3.1 million deficit.

East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Primary Care Trust claim a "satisfactory conclusion" to the dispute with the Cambridge-based hospital over services it supplied to the PCT, was crucial to allow its finances to stay in the black.

It had been reassuring the strategic health authority that it was in a strong enough position to break even this year.

But, although a financial settlement was agreed between the hospital and other partner health organisations, it excluded the primary care trust.

The settlement also included a dispute amnesty which prevented the primary care trust from pursuing further claims this year.

PCT director, Chris Ray, told board members that the deal reached with Addenbrooke's Hospital had "pulled the rug from beneath the PCT's feet".

Now the primary care trust could see its performance rating drop as it struggles to keep its finances out of the red and meet Government set budget targets.

Board members could take legal action against the hospital, reduce its financial contribution through service level agreements with other health providers and introduce service cuts and additional savings.

The PCT has been faced with the tough decision following recent discussions between Addenbrooke's Hospital, South Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire City Primary Care Trusts, the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority and the Department of Health.

During those discussions a financial settlement of £5.5 million was agreed which excluded East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Primary Care Trust, leaving it unable to fight to clear the debt.

Members were told that the PCT could not ascertain which of the partners was responsible for excluding it "from a fair share of the settlement."

PCT director of finance, Jeremy Cook, said: "In our final full year of operation, it is very disappointing to find ourselves in this position.

"Staff within our community services have worked extremely hard to reduce spending to help us achieve our savings targets. An additional savings plan has been developed and, whilst every effort will be made to continue to provide services at the existing rate, the PCT may have to consider the possibility of making service reductions."

The PCT is forecasting a £5.1 million overspend on service level agreements with NHS hospitals of which £4.1 million relates to Addenbrooke's Hospital.

"The PCT queried £2.9 million of the charges raised by Addenbrooke's," added Mr Cook. "South Cambridgeshire and City PCTs agreed a financial deal with Addenbrooke's which does not cover East Cambridgeshire and Fenland PCT."

A spokesman for Addenbrooke's Hospital said: "We do not have a dispute with East Cambridgeshire and Fenland PCT and they have not raised the issue of taking legal action against us."

Norfolk Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority refused to comment on the matter.

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