Full £800m NHS ‘priorities’ fund to offset trust deficits

About £800m of funding that was intended for mental health, community and primary care will instead be used to ensure the Department of Health achieves financial balance this year, it has been confirmed.

In a letter, seen by HSJ, NHS England says the “full amount” of the contingency fund held back from clinical commissioning groups in 2016-17 will be used to offset financial deficits among NHS trusts. The deficits are largely in the acute hospital sector.

Paul Baumann said the contingency money should be released in the last month of the financial year

Paul Baumann, chief financial officer at NHS England, wrote to CCGs, saying: “The aggregate effect of this will be to increase the surplus across the whole of the commissioning sector by around £800m, which will help to offset the provider deficit position and help to secure a balanced position for the NHS overall.”

Every CCG had 1 per cent of their allocation held back at the start of the year, with any release of this funding requiring Treasury approval.

Last summer, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said this money was stripped out of budgets that “would have been available from CCGs for mental health services, community health services, primary care and other things”.

Full story in the HSJ, 17 March 2017