• Mid Cheshire Foundation Trust and CCGs were unable to agree a deal on 2016-17 or 2017-18 contracts
  • Expert determination, organised by regulators, ruled in April over the dispute
  • The agreement has not been released but the trust described the result as “satisfactory”

The dispute over a multimillion pound contract between a foundation trust and its two clinical commissioning groups has ended after an expert determination.

Mid Cheshire Foundation Trust and South Cheshire and Vale Royal CCGs failed to agree contracts for 2016-17 or 2017-18 in a long-running dispute that was unresolved even after meetings with Jim Mackey and Simon Stevens.

HSJ has learned an expert, appointed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to rule on the contract dispute, has issued a binding agreement to settle the row.

However, the result has been kept secret after all parties signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Minutes from a meeting of the Mid Cheshire board in April said chief executive Tracy Bullock “reported that the contract dispute process has now concluded following the expert determination received in the trust and by regulators last week. The expert determination covered two points in regard to fines and penalties within the quality schedule, two points in relation to GP admissions and the use of [clinical decisions unit], the final point was in regard to the contractual management of the determination.”

It added: “Ms Bullock reported that the outcome was satisfactory for the trust, but although these issues are resolved there are still system-wide deficits which both parties need to work together to resolve and the trust is committed to this.”

Board papers for South Cheshire and Vale Royal CCGs reveal the organisations have reported their joint year-end 2016-17 financial position declined by £2m after a deal was reached for the 2016-17 contract.

The trust’s year-end position included a £3.4m adjustment to income from payment by results “as a result of the recent agreement with South Cheshire and Vale Royal CCGs in respect of the contract settlement for 2016-17”.

HSJ reported in March that South Cheshire CCG, which is under legal directions from NHS England, had instructed David Lock QC to argue its case against Mid Cheshire Hospitals. The trust’s total legal costs for the dispute will be around £12,000.

The dispute is understood to relate to the level of zero hour stays for A&E patients and the use of the trust’s clinical decisions unit and its level of emergency re-admissions. The CCGs believed they were being overcharged for activity while the trust claimed this activity was genuine and the CCGs were required to pay under the payment by results contract.

Both CCGs failed to meet their financial targets last year with the reported deficit for South Cheshire CCG at £5.2m and for Vale Royal CCG at £3.1m.

A trust spokesman said it could not disclose details of the expert determination but added the trust board had been informed and was satisfied with the outcome.

A spokesman for the CCGs said: “The CCGs fully accept the findings of the expert review and welcome a prompt resolution to the ongoing discussions. Due to the details of the contract, we are unable to comment further at this point.

“We will now move forward and work in partnership with Mid Cheshire Hospitals Trust to deliver the best possible care for Cheshire people within the financial allocation that is available in the system.”