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CCG faces deficit of £29m

The CCG with the ‘worst deficit rise in the country’ is now facing a budget black hole of almost £30m, having been told it needed to create a £4.6m surplus at the start of the year.

At a governing body meeting in December, NHS Bedfordshire CCG chief clinical and accountable officer Dr Paul Hassan warned that the situation was ‘worst in the country’ as it was looking at a £25m deficit, but since then the costs have spiralled and in only a few weeks that number has been reassessed as £28.8 million.

The news is the latest in a string of warnings over CCG finances, with NHS England expecting a swathe of CCGs to end the year in the red.

NHS Bedfordshire CCG had been told by NHS England at the beginning of the financial year that it needed to create a £4.6m surplus in 2014/15 but instead the deficit has sky-rocketed. Locally, poor financial forecasting and higher than expected demand in secondary care were blamed for the troubles.

A spokesperson for the CCG said: ‘At our last governing body meeting we announced that we expected to end this financial year with an overspend of around £25m. We have continued to work with NHS England to assess all possible expenditure for this financial year. Having completed this work, we are forecasting a deficit of £28.8m for this financial year ending March 2015.

‘We are continuing to work with our provider hospitals, neighbouring CCGs and our GP members to ensure we do not exceed this sum while maintaining our focus on the quality and safety of the care we offer.’

Dr Hassan said: ‘Much of our overspend has been on caring for patients at our local acute hospitals, but we have also seen a large rise in costs for providing mental healthcare and continuing healthcare for people in the community. In addition, our savings plan for this financial year is not delivering as much as expected. It is imperative that we control our financial position as soon as possible if we are to provide safe, high quality, affordable care for local people.

‘We have appointed a turnaround director and are working with NHS England, local healthcare providers and neighbouring CCGs to minimise our costs this year and next. At the same time, we are developing a longer-term recovery plan that takes account of the rising and changing demand for healthcare in Bedfordshire as outlined in the current strategic healthcare review.

‘Financial recovery will inevitably involve taking some difficult decisions about local services. We will be working differently as commissioners and are reviewing all our contracting processes and governance structures to ensure we have the capacity and capability to deliver our recovery plan.

‘We will continue to use the best practice engagement that we have developed over the past 18 months to involve local clinicians, patients and partners in our plans and ensure we retain our focus on the quality and safety of care for our patients.’

NHS England has already said that 18 CCGs are expected to end the financial year in deficit.