FILMING in accident and emergency at York Hospital has revealed that a government rule over payments cost the hospital £6 million.

The Dispatches programme, A&E’s Missing Millions, was filmed in York Hospital during a busy 24-hour period in December at the time of a norovirus outbreak.

Government penalties for missing targets when treating emergency services mean more than a billion pounds have been withheld from English Hospital budgets since 2010, Dispatches found.

In the case of York Hospital, the marginal tariff – intended to discourage over-reliance on A&E, meaning hospitals only get 30 per cent of the costs of treating a patient after certain numbers have been admitted – meant the hospital said it was not paid for £6 million of treatment last year.

Hospital chief executive Patrick Crowley told the programme makers that would pay for six wards’ worth of nurses in a year, or 50 to 60 consultants.

He said he had not seen any evidence the money was being invested to stop people turning up at A&E.

Mr Crowley said he did not criticise anyone in particular but said: “I think an inability to invest that 70 per cent is a function of the environment we’re currently working within.”

The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said it was forecast to withhold £3.5 million from the hospital in 2013/14 under the rules.

It said that it was coping with a financial deficit of millions of pounds, but had managed to significantly turn its finances around since taking over from the primary care trusts last year.

The CCG said it would be investing the money into specific schemes in the future. It added that withheld money was always reinvested into the hospital.