TheLondonspecialist commissioning group has reversed its decision to deny six hospitals tops ups for their specialist spinal surgery.

The move brings the total number ofLondonhospitals eligible for top ups above the payment by results tariff for specialist spinal work from two to eight. The strategic health authority-based SCG’s decision follows nation-wide concern over the consistency and fairness of the top up designation process (news page 5, 8 November and page 9, 29 November).

Acute trusts have claimed that the DoH has used the process to drive the centralisation of specialist services and that SHAs and SCG have been given scant guidance on the process.

In an email to the sixLondonhospitals previously excluded from spinal top ups the SCG’s head of specialised commissioning Sue McLellen said:

‘We had been working on the assumption, confirmed by the [DoH] PbR team, that [those eligible for] spinal surgery [top ups]… would [also] attract the neurosciences top up… The PbR team confirmed earlier this week that their model does not allow this and, in the absence of any other criteria for determining eligibility for specialised spinal services, I have agreed with the SHA and the PbR team that all London trusts eligible for neurosciences top up will also be eligible for spinal top up.’