PERFORMANCE: Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust has clashed with commissioners over £1m withheld from the trust for failing to meet a target it believes it met.

Commissioners have withheld 2 per cent of their monthly contract payments to the FT since July - about £500,000 per month - for missing its target for the proportion of patients waiting less than four hours in accident and emergency.

In a report to its September board meeting, trust chief executive Keith McNeil said it had failed to meet the four hour standard earlier in the year because of “significant increases in A&E attendances”. There was a 9 per cent increase in the first quarter of 2014-15 compared with the same period last year, he added.

The trust agreed with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group that it would achieve a “recovery milestone” of 91 per cent in July, according to the report.

Of the 9,470 patients who attended Cambridge’s A&E in July, 866 spent more than four hours in the department, delivering a performance of 90.9 per cent. “In our view [this] met the milestone of 91 [per cent],” the report said.

It is currently the view of the CCG, however, that the milestone has not been achieved. It is worth noting that if 14 of these 866 patients had not spent longer than four hours in A&E, the trust would have achieved 91.0 [per cent].”

A trust spokesman said: “Given the increasing numbers of people coming through the door of [A&E] we are saddened that the commissioners have decided to withhold this money.

“The most important thing at the moment is that all available funding reaches the front line where it makes the most difference to patients.”

A CCG spokeswoman said: “NHS commissioners are working closely with trust executives and other providers of services across the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough healthcare system to ensure that the issues that are causing the deterioration in waiting times are addressed.

“We withheld money from Addenbrookes in July and again in August because the agreed recovery milestones were not met.

“Any withholding of money until the trust meets the standards is not a loss of income unless they fail to deliver the standard.”