The Health Service Journal has reported yet another major problem for East Kent’s troubled health services. It is a devastating blow for the finances of the East Kent health system, and means that local Commissioners – the Clinical Commissioning Groups who provide most of the money for local hospitals – will be an extra £30 million short over the next 2 years.
It stems from a coding dispute whereby the East Kent CCGs believed they were being overcharged by the East Kent acute hospitals Trust for work done. The CCGs alleged that this was because of “coding uplift” – in which hospital procedures for patients were said to be more complicated and expensive than they actually were.
The CCGs were arguing that the Hospital Trust was “massaging” the coding to make operations more expensive and thereby get more money from the CCGs – which would have made the Trust’s deficit lower, and also reduced the number of operations and tests that the CCGs could pay for. This has now gone to arbitration and the panel adjudicating the dispute has found in favour of the Trust.
Canterbury and Whitstable MP, Rosie Duffield said today: “This dispute means that there is substantially less cash to fund hospital services than was thought only days ago. The CCGs will have £30 million less to fund work at the East Kent Hospitals Trust than they thought they were going to have, which means fewer operations can be done, fewer tests carried out, and less A&E activity paid for without our local Hospitals going in to even bigger deficit.” She continued: “The hospital Trust is already going to be £30 million in the red at the end of this financial year, and the deficit is growing rapidly. This is a further blow to the hard – pressed managers and staff at the Trust and means that they will have to borrow even more to keep work going. It demonstrates clearly that there is simply not enough money in the system here to cope with growing demand and the needs of the population. And on top of that, when they have to borrow to keep going, they are charged penal interest rates by the Government”.
Speaking of the Kent NHS plans for the future, Rosie Duffield further noted: “We have a hospital Trust where the deficit is ramping upwards, a set of CCGs that can’t fund the services required, growing year on year deficits, and threats to mental health funding too because of all this. The local health system clearly needs more beds and capacity and staff and yet the pressures are to cut and cut and cut again. It is intolerable. What must happen is a substantial funding uplift nationally and the withdrawal of the crazy local “Sustainability and Transformation Plan” which isn’t sustainable and isn’t transforming local health services.” Click here to sign our petition against this change.