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CCGs face ‘strain’ on hospital funding

CCGs will struggle unless there is 'major change' in hospitals say Government auditors, as a survey shows over half of PCT clusters say they are concerned about the financial state of providers in their area.

The National Audit Office report says SHAs, PCTs, NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts reported a combined overall surplus of £2.1bn in 2011/12. But it reported ‘a large gap between the strongest and the weakest organisations'.

51% of PCT clusters surveyed saying they were very or quite concerned about the financial sustainability of their providers and the report calls on the DH to ‘explain how it will ensure the financial sustainability of local providers should CCGs get into financial difficulty'.

It comes after NHS North Yorkshire and York last week became the first PCT to forecast passing on deficits of around £19m to CCGs next April, despite assurances from ministers that all legacy debts accumulated during 2011/12 and 2012/13 would be cleared and not passed on to CCGs.

The report Securing the future financial sustainability of the NHS, published today, says only two PCTs – NHS Cambridgeshire and NHS Peterborough – had a historic debt in March 2012, totalling £21 million, but acknowledges the risk that ‘PCTs will incur new legacy debt' if they end 2012/13 in deficit.

It adds: ‘Without major change for some providers, the financial pressure on them will only get more severe.'

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: ‘So far the NHS is meeting the challenge of maintaining strong finances in a period of austerity. It is clear, however, that parts of the service are under strain.

‘For value for money to be delivered in future, two things are required: firstly, careful management of the risks created by transition to a new commissioning model; and, secondly a coherent and transparent financial support mechanism which outlines when trusts should be supported, or allowed to fail.'