Birmingham City Council is in dispute with a hospital trust over unpaid fines for delayed transfers of care totalling £1.1m.
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hopsitals Trust has confirmed that the fines have been issued to cover the council’s performance over the last three years.
Local Government Chronicle understands the council has been threatened with legal action by the trust over non-payment of the fines. However, both the trust and the council declined to answer questions on what stage any legal action has reached.
A Birmingham spokesperson said the council had agreed a way forward with the trust that “minimises” the pressure on hospitals from delayed transfers by “identifying resources in terms of social work capacity and additional bedded services”.
They added: “We are disappointed with the approach taken by the hospitals trust; while we have indeed received fines from this organisation we have not received the detailed analysis we would need to verify and agree any fines are payable.”
NHS figures for March this year show there were 3,128 delayed transfers involving Birmingham residents that were attributed to social care provided by the council. This is equivalent to 59 per cent of the total for the month.
The Care and Support (Discharge of Hospital Patients) Regulations, introduced under the Care Act 2014, meant that NHS trusts are no longer obliged to seek fines for delayed transfers attributed to social care, with an expectation that reimbursement generally would only be asked for by the NHS as a last resort.
Under the regulations the NHS can charge councils outside London between £100 and £130 per lost bed day.
The trust’s director of finance and performance, Tony Waite, said discussions were ongoing with the council over the fines.
He added: “The trust has not taken the decision to fine lightly and reflects the significant impact on patients, families and the trust.
“Delayed transfers of care have resulted in us needing to open additional wards and staff these with extra healthcare professionals and has also impacted on the waiting time for patients in our emergency departments.”