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Cash-strapped CCG announces review of all contracts

A CCG forecasting a £14m deficit in 2015/16 has announced it will need to review all contracts based on a re-evaluation of their ‘clinical value’.

NHS North Tyneside CCG said the review ‘may impact on the services currently available’ but that it had ‘a duty to deliver health care services within our budget allocation’.

The CCG said it has appointed ‘an experienced director’ to oversee the work, which will begin by looking at how the CCG implements clinical guidelines, after spending continued to spiral out of control.

It comes after a recent Pulse investigation revealed that GPs around the country were already facing cuts to payments for services and greater restrictions on services they can offer patients.

NHS North Tyneside CCG’s financial difficulties are further compounded by having to repay last year’s deficit, and it is currently expecting to finish 2015/16 £14.3m in the red.

The CCG finished 2014/15 with a £6.4m deficit, the equivalent of 2% of its £300m annual budget, which it blamed on caring for a higher-than-average elderly population, who need more complex and costly care, and higher levels of hospital attendance than elsewhere in the country.

CCG chair and local GP Dr John Matthews said the CCG was working on developing new care models for elderly patients but that this was a longer-term strategy.

In the meantime, he said, the CCG is ‘spending more money than we have allocated for the needs of our local population and not getting the best value for taxpayers’ money’.

He said: ‘The areas that we’re looking at include reviewing the implementation of clinical guidelines to make sure that we’re not commissioning services that have limited clinical value, and we are thoroughly reviewing all of our contracts.

‘Nevertheless we have a duty to deliver health care services within our budget allocation and so if our schemes do not deliver sufficient savings, we will then need to look at other areas of expenditure which may impact on the services currently available. 

‘There are tough choices ahead, but we are committed to providing high-quality healthcare in a sustainable way.’

The CCG further called on local patients to help by ‘thinking carefully’ about how they use health services, including ‘seeing your GP for most health needs and only using A&E for life threatening and emergency situations’.

In all, 19 CCGs ended up in deficit in 2014/15 and Pulse’s investigation revealed that CCGs are having to put in a range of restrictions on vasectomy, female sterilisation and spinal physiotherapy to save money.