FINANCE: The amount being paid by Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust in contract penalties has continued to fall at the start of this year.

In January the mental health trust has paid £41,500, down from £61,500 in December. The trust had been paying an average of £100,000 a month during the rest of the year.

A report to February’s board said the reductionin January was due to the reduction in the number of detained patients absent without leave, a breach which costs the trust £3,500 a time.

The trust has an agreed quality and performance improvement programme with its six commissioners. The report said no penalties were paid in the Bath and North East Somerset Area during January, the first time that has happened in any primary care trust area since the NHS contract introduced penalties in 2009.

A number of other areas, notably Wiltshire and North Somerset, are now paying less than £5000 per month in penalties.