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CCG to fine hospital over poor post-discharge communication

GP commissioners have fined their local foundation trust over its poor performance in sending out discharge letters.

The fine, which is currently undergoing final negotiations, was levied because electronic discharge letters were arriving late, with incorrect or inadequate information, or never arriving, the CCG said in a letter to GPs.

The CCG used contractual levers to serve a performance notice on the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, following an audit of its performance by three GP practices in December 2011.

This was followed by a remedial action plan, but performance did not improve.

‘We therefore had no choice but to impose a financial penalty, as set out within the contract,’ the letter said.

‘With this money the CCG has reinvested in electronic software which will allow better communication electronically between Dudley General Foundation Trust and our constituent practices.

‘This will also mitigate against the fact that DGFT are sending more of their patient letters via, which most practices have to print and then scan onto their clinical system.’

Paula Clark, chief executive of DGFT, said: ‘We are still in the process of validating the audit findings to review the mitigating circumstances that were agreed in the action plan. For example proof of dispatch: in some cases the electronic letter may have been sent but not received by the GP practice.’

Dr Tim Horsburgh, medical secretary of Dudley LMC, said: ‘There was no uniformity about how the letters were arriving.’ However, he added: ‘The hospital has started making efforts to improving its IT.’