• Barts partially wins contract arbitration dispute with NHS England
  • However, the £14m now owed will not be paid until at least 2020, because it did not give notice in time
  • Forecast deficit increases from £1.9m to £14.8m

A hospital trust is facing a much larger deficit than planned, because £14m income due from NHS England will not be paid in this financial year. 

Barts Health Trust and the national commissioning board went to arbitration over a £50m overperformance in the London provider’s 2017-18 specialised commissioning contract.

The trust said NHS England had agreed £30m of this was payable but the remaining £20m was contested, and was referred to an arbitration process.

A paper going to the Barts board this week reveals the “expert determination” arbitration process had concluded that £14m of the £20m for which NHS England had disputed coding had been properly charged.

However, the paper said that, because the trust had not notified NHS England early enough, the money would not be paid for 15 months at the earliest.

This means Barts is now predicting a year-end deficit of £14.8m, against its previous forecast of £1.9m.

A spokesman for Barts said: “The expert determination agreed that the trust had coded its activity properly.

“However, it found the trust had not notified the commissioners of the additional pressures in due time.

“Under the acute services contract, there is an 18-month period of neutrality, which means that if we did not give notice we are not able to bill for the activity until April 2020.”

NHS England has been approached for comment.

National contract guidance for 2017-18 and 2018-19 said: “It should be exceptional for any dispute to reach the expert determination stage; this would be seen as a failure on the part of the local parties involved.”

Barts Health Trust has a turnover of roughly £1bn and is predicting to achieve £54.5m against its savings plan of £55.5m for 2018-19.

The trust’s January finance report noted that its “current liabilities exceed its current assets by £127.1m”.