A hospital trust fought its commissioners in a £26 million arbitration and lost.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust disputed work and payment levels with its Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

This is not the first time the trust has taken disputes with its commissioners to abitration. They did so last year and the year before.

CCGs commission hospital trusts like BHRUT to carry out work and then pay them for it.

Discrepancies between what the North East London CCGs think they need to pay the trust for their work and what the trust thinks it is owed caused the dispute.

In total, the trust lost £26 million in the case, but due to the length of the arbitration process, the impact of that total will be spread across the budgets of two financial years.

A total of £13 million will be factored out of the trust’s 2016-2017 budget and £13 million out of the 2017-2018 budget.

The impact that this financial loss will have on the trust’s services is not yet clear and discussions with the Department of Health and NHS area managers are due to take place in the coming months to decide where cut backs will have to occur.

Pressures of funding across the NHS nationally mean that BHRUT are not the only trust to have taken their commissioners to arbitration over such disputes.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust took NHS England to arbitration in November last year and won.

BHRUT are currently in financial special measures and were rated “inadequate” for their use of resources in CQC’s latest inspection of the trust earlier this year.

According to the Health Service Journal, at the end of the 2017-2018 financial year, the trust was running an overall deficit of £48.9 million.

The trust has a £500 million turnover per year and most of its income comes from its commissioners; the area’s CCGs, which paid the trust £391 million in 2016-17.

In April this year, BHRUT’s chief executive Matthew Hopkins and Chairman Joe Fielding issued a joint public statement, apologising for the financial situation the trust was in.

In the last few weeks the trust has signed a financial recovery plan and is working closely with PWC consultants to improve its financial position and processes.

Campaigner Andy Walker is fighting for more critical care beds at both King George and Queen’s hospitals in Redbridge.

He said: “North London residents seem to be getting an unfair deal. £26 million, that could buy more critical care beds.

“You can see the trust are really feeling the pressure. The loss is a kick in the teeth, adding to the financial pressures.”

In a joint statement, BHRUT and the area’s CCGs said: “We are pleased that the [arbitration] process has now concluded. We found it to be a constructive and helpful experience. The CCGs and trust will work together to translate the findings into an agreed contractual position for 2017/18, this financial year and beyond.

“We are committed to working collaboratively to progress our integrated care system with local partners, to ensure that we deliver a sustainable future for BHR and the very best quality care for local people.”

A spokesman for BHRUT said: “We have made significant changes and improvements to how we manage our finances in recent months.

“We recently finalised a comprehensive financial improvement plan, signed off by our board, which sets out how we will go about tackling the financial challenges we have been facing.

“We are committed to providing the very best care we can to our community in a sustainable way, and this will continue to be our top priority.”