COMMERCIAL: Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust has more than halved its error rate in coding treatments but is disputing proposed changes to coding processes.

The trust was selected for a “targeted audit” by the Audit Commission as its Healthcare Resource Group error rates over three years placed it in the worst performing 20 per cent of trusts.

Auditors found the coding error rate had fallen from 24 per cent to 10 per cent and meant the trust was overcharging commissioners by just £152 on the sample which was worth £342,424. The national average is 9.1 per cent.

A report to the board states the “most contentious” part of the Audit Commission report is the recommendation that the trust stop recording angiograms where an angiography is undertaken.

The report states: “Our view, and that of many trusts, is that all activity should be coded, and it is for the grouper to assign this to the right HRG. Therefore the national and local message was to record all procedures as part of an episode of care. Whilst the financial impact of this within the cohort of patients audited is net neutral, estimates of the Trust wide impact of this change are between £400k and £750k.

“The PCT and Trust have not agreed a financial impact figure, but have agreed to defer the implementation of the change for 12 months, starting April 2012. This is balanced by the trust agreeing to defer the impact of emergency department attendance tariffs for the same period. Again estimates have not been agreed, but the Trust is confident we will be able to at least, offset the angiogram impact, and potentially more than offset it.”