Millions of pounds still needed to meet targets for county NHS bosses

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County health chiefs have announced they are seeking nearly £15m of improvements to meet financial targets before the end of the financial year.

The NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says it has to enter a period of ‘financial recovery’ due to a projected gap in this year’s budgets.

The CCG says it has significantly reduced the shortfall, but estimates that if the same number of patients continue to use the system until the end of the financial year, it will have a year-end gap of £8.6m. A further £6m improvement is required to deliver the required one per cent surplus.

Significant growth in population in the county – equivalent to a new town larger than Kettering in a decade – is putting a major strain on resources, it said.

The CCG, which was authorised in April 2013, says it inherited a deficit from the previous commissioner, but also revealed it was confident a plan to address the predicted shortfall would help it to break even by the end of the 2013/14 financial year.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “The NHS is under unprecedented pressure, with the small increase in NHS budgets allocated this year being outstripped by high levels of local demand. As a result there is a gap in this year’s budget. This is coupled with a national requirement to make efficiency savings through the national Quality Innovation Production and Prevention (QIPP) programme, which aims to reduce inefficiencies whilst improving the quality of care for patients, as well as deliver a one per cent budget surplus to be carried forward into next year.”

The spokesman added: “We have identified this projected gap early and proactively raised this at the first opportunity with NHS England and as a result are under a statutory obligation to enter a period of financial recovery. To put this into context the total NHS budget allocated to the CCG to purchase local services for the year is just over £660m.

“NHS Nene CCG want to offer reassurance that patient services will not be impacted in the short term and that any future changes to the local health service will be primarily focused on improving the long term health of patients. We are committed to providing high quality services that meet the needs of patients.”

The CCG is working on longer term solutions, the spokesman insisted. He said: “The Healthier Northamptonshire programme brings together health and social care, with the collective vision to deliver excellent wellbeing outcomes and great services for the people of Northamptonshire in the right place and within budget. The programme aims to ensure sustainability of the Northamptonshire health and social care economy whilst improving access and quality of care for patients and carers alike.

“A robust, systematic and clear plan to manage the gap is currently being developed and was begun earlier this year. We are taking a number of steps to reduce the deficit by year end and the CCG is currently working with NHS England to produce a financial recovery plan and establish a financial recovery group.

“The plan will help us break even by the end of the financial year. However as it stands we will struggle to make the surplus.”

Among possible measures to be taken is one to control recruitment.