Hospital fined for waiting list delay: Trust fined pounds 11,500 as patients kept waiting

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The Independent Online
A HOSPITAL trust in Bedfordshire has been fined pounds 500 per case for keeping 23 patients waiting longer than 18 months for surgery.

Luton and Dunstable Hospital Trust must now pay back pounds 11,500. The money comes out of the same fund the Department of Health allocates to help hospitals reduce their waiting lists.

Averil Dongworth, the trust's chief executive, last night said that while it had met its waiting list targets for the financial year 1992-93, it had 'crept over' at the end of June. The hospital has to perform 40,000 operations a year.

Most patients were waiting for urological surgery. 'We are still investigating the reasons for it. Managing waiting lists is incredibly complex. We have now dealt with the problem by using extra medical staff - but this has cost us more money.'

The fine has to come out of its patient budget. Mrs Dongworth said: 'There needs to be some incentive to shorten the length of time people have to wait.'

The new system stems from the limits set in the Patient's Charter which promised that patients would not wait more than 18 months or two years for surgery, depending on the type of operation.

The money is recovered by the Department of Health from the health regions which claim the fines from the health authorities which in turn fine the hospitals. The money comes from the annual special allocation that the department allows for waiting lists. In 1992-93 it recovered pounds 45,000 in fines from four health regions. This year the special waiting list allocation is pounds 39m.