PERFORMANCE: An English acute trust near the Welsh border has blamed two Welsh health boards for creating an “administrative burden” which has led it to stop carrying out non-specialist procedures on patients from their area.
University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust said it had written off over £668,000 from treating patients registered with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and its neighbour Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board in the last four years.
From next month the trust will stop carrying out non-specialist elective procedures on patients registered with either of them. It said the reason was “ongoing payment issues”.
Elective procedures carried out on a cross border basis, where there is no cross-border contract, must receive prior approval from the commissioner, according to joint guidance issued by the Department for Health and the Welsh Government.
Both Welsh local health boards told HSJ they did not pay for the procedures because UHB did not seek prior approval from them.
However, UHB director of strategic development Deborah Lee told HSJ: “We have worked hard to set up contracts with the Welsh health boards where there is an established and regular flow of patients from the area to our trust in Bristol.
“This works successfully with all the Welsh health boards (where there is a regular flow of patients) with the exception of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Aneurin Bevan [where prior approval is required].”
Ms Lee told HSJ that localities within the health boards applied different administrative processes, making the process of gaining prior approval more complicated.
She said: “The administrative burden associated with the approach adopted by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Aneurin Bevan cannot be sustained and diverts staff time from other essential patient related activities; as such we are no longer able to support this position.”
A spokesman from Aneurin Bevan Health Board, which UHB said has refused to pay £590,000 over the last four years, said: “We are aware of the University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust’s decision to refuse to accept patients from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area. We have responded to them and apologise for any inconvenience caused to patients.
“Payment refusal is related to agreed terms of business, and not the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board financial position.”
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, which held back £79,000 over the same period, confirmed UHB did not ask for approval before carrying out the unpaid elective procedures.