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External consultants to be sent in to scrutinise CCG plans in cash-strapped areas

CCGs in 11 cash-strapped areas will have external consultants brought in to troubleshoot problems from next month, NHS bosses revealed.

NHS England, Monitor and the Trust Development Authority said they had launched a tender process to find strategic consultants that will be paid to help CCGs in ‘financially challenged health economies’ such as London, Essex and Staffordshire.

The consultants will be appointed by the end of March and will over the following 10 weeks conduct an analysis of the problems in each area and possible planning solutions, including looking at GP services.

The consultants will be picked from an existing framework of strategy consultants used by the Government, which includes companies such as KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, McKinsey & Company and PwC.

It comes after NHS England last year asked CCGs to draw up three to five year plans to solve an NHS funding gap projected to have reached £30bn by 2020-21. In subsequent guidance, CCGs were asked to submit draft plans by the end of last week, which will be amended, approved and finalised by June.

It comes despite GP commissioners dramatically cutting NHS spending on external support since CCGs assumed full budgetary responsibility in April.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: ‘This support is to help financially-challenged health economies in England with strategic planning in order to secure sustainable quality services for their local patients.

‘Monitor, NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority have agreed to fund a series of projects to help groups of commissioners (CCGs as the commissioner of the majority of local health services) and providers (mainly hospital Trusts) work together to develop integrated five-year plans that effectively address the particular local challenges they face.’

A Monitor spokesperson added: ‘The analysis undertaken by the advisors will focus on how closely the different five-year plans are aligned across the health economy (trusts and CCGs). It is not about delivering the five year plans for those organisations. Each of the 11 areas may have different needs with different levels of analysis already completed as part of the ongoing planning process. Where there needs additional analysis of GP provision then it is likely this will be done – but there is no guarantee that will be the case.’

The 11 areas that will get special advice are:

1. South West London
2. North East London
3. Cumbria
4. Eastern Cheshire
5. Staffordshire
6. Mid Essex
7. Cambridge & Peterborough
8. Leicestershire
9. Northamptonshire
10. East Sussex
11. Devon

Source: Monitor