Southwark’s hospitals were served fines of millions of pounds last year for missing patient-care targets, the News can reveal.
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was dealt a blow of £2.175m by various south London Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) only for the money to be reinvested at a later date.
A spokeswoman for King’s said part of the fine resulted from records showing fourteen per cent of all patients admitted to King’s A&E last year had to wait four hours to be treated.
NHS England policy states hospitals should aim to limit the number of patients kept waiting for this long at five per cent. The fine is calculated by adding £120 for every single patient that is kept waiting, over and above this five per cent limit.
Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust had an average of six-point-seven per cent of its A&E patients waiting over four hours, based on three quarterly figures from 2015 to 2016.
Trusts can also be fined in this way when more than eight per cent of patients referred for non-urgent treatment by their GP are made to wait more than eighteen weeks.
The King’s spokeswoman said: “Our focus remains on improving our performance in all areas, and we are making progress.
“We work closely with our local commissioners to ensure these services are as responsive and high-performing as possible, with patients the ultimate beneficiaries.”
Further disclosures by King’s Trust show the hospital ran a £65m spending deficit last year after it was made to find £55m of savings from its budget.
The King’s spokeswoman has confirmed that the huge fine has since been reinvested back into the hospital with the aim of helping it improve waiting times.
Meanwhile Guys’ and St Thomas’ hospitals were fined £383,204 by Lambeth CCG and £329,061 by Southwark CCG, although in this case the fines were also paid back in full.
South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, which specialises in mental health care, received no fines last year, while its spending deficit for last year is predicted to be £8.7m.
A spokesperson for NHS England, the national body whose policy requires CCGs to carry out the fines, said they are used to incentivise hospitals to “eliminate long waits”.
They also confirmed that this fining policy is due to end next year, and that hospitals will instead be rewarded with grants rather than given the short-term punishments.