PERFORMANCE: Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust had incurred £700,720 in contract penalties at the end of December.

Almost half of this, £330,260, is due to 3,242 ambulance handovers in excess of 20 minutes according to the trust’s latest finance report.

Other significant fines, as a result of failing to meet the terms of the contract penalties, include consistent failure to produce 90 per cent of discharge summaries the next working day for which the trust had incurred a £160,000 fine by the end of December.

The trust faces a £52,896 penalty for breaches of same sex accommodation and £50,793 for failing to meet the four hour A&E target.

Minutes from January’s finance committee reveal the trust submitted an “excusing notice” to NHS Gloucestershire to avoid penalties for part of December based on the impact of norovirus and swine flu, which saw 150 beds closed to admission and discharge, and the impact of the adverse weather.

The finance director informed the committee that the trust had allowed £1.6m of reserves for contract penalties.

The chief executive remarked that there were two potential solutions to avoiding penalty charges:

  • Build a larger A&E department: this was one possible longer-term solution and would require significant PFI capital.
  • Reduce the flow of patients by utilising the existing minor injury units within the county.