FINANCE: Luton PCT has said it has begun to make “rigorous challenges” to its providers because it faces a deficit for the year.

At the end of 2010 the primary care trust had an in-year deficit of £1.4m.

The PCTs finance report said the kinds of challenges “not made in previous years [have] been formally made to key providers”.

This includes Luton and Dunstable Foundation Hospital Trust. However, the report said: “At the time of writing no agreement has been reached with the [the trust] on 2010-11 final contract settlement including the impact of these challenges.”

This includes a challenge to get back £126,000 from the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group. For example, the report said Addenbrookes Hospital had over performed by £308,000 on specialist commissioning.

“This largely relates to nine Cochlear implants conducted this year that were not part of the plan, at a cost of £324,000, however a challenge of £126,000 has been included in the numbers above, after discovering that a number these have been double charged,” it said.

The report said the acute expenditure position “includes benefits derived from a total of £8.2m challenges submitted to providers year to date.

“The total benefit of challenges is reported at £1.2m, of which circa £542,000 of challenges with no response from providers, beyond contract time limits.”