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King’s Fund warns of an impending CCG financial crisis

Only a third of CCG financial leads are confident that they will have balanced their books by the 2015/16 financial year, amid signs of a looming ‘financial crunch’ as NHS efficiency savings take hold.

The latest King’s Fund quarterly monitoring report, which was published today and is based on 47 responses, also found that one in eight CCGs expect to have overspent their budget for the financial year just ended.

With regards to CCG performance, the report indicated they are on the whole holding up against key performance indicators, such as the ‘four hour target’ in A&E departments, but that waiting lists for inpatient treatments are growing – with 9.6% of patients waiting more than 18 weeks in January.

But it comes as CCGs are being asked to find efficiencies to release £1.9bn to fund a large chunk (equivalent to around £10 million for an average CCG) of the £3.8bn ‘Better Care’ fund for integration of health and social care in England. To meet this savings expectation, King’s Fund policy director Richard Murray said CCGs would need to shift activity and resources from hospitals to the community – prediciting emergency admissions will have to drop by 15%.

He said: ‘As the implications for hospitals of implementing the Better Care Fund sink in, there is a growing recognition that the NHS will face a financial crisis in 2015/16, if not before.’

‘It is now certain that the next government will need to find more funding for the NHS or accept significant cuts to services.’