Commissioners may make ‘controversial’ cuts to break even

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group is heading for a £15m deficit in 2016-17 unless it makes “controversial decisions” to cut patient services.

According to the CCG’s November board papers, at the end of August it was reporting a year to date deficit of £6.1m, and forecasting an end of year deficit of £15m – compared to an original plan of a £7.5m surplus.

A recovery plan aims to get the CCG ‘back on track by 31 March 2017’. The CCG had recovered slightly from the previous month when it had a year to date deficit of £7.1m, but chief finance officer Caroline Hall said there were still “enormous risks that need to be addressed”. The CCG hired a turnaround director, Phil Church, on 28 November.

A detailed recovery plan has been developed to get the CCG “back on track by 31 March 2017, while remaining in deficit for the remainder of the current year”.

The papers said: “Although its original intention was to deliver a cumulative surplus of £7.5m, the CCG has now committed to break even. The final recovery plan was due to be submitted to NHS England by 25 August.”

As part of this plan, cuts to services are being considered. The CCG’s patient and public committee said “the CCG would need to make difficult decisions about the provision of services… and some decisions would, by necessity, have to be made at short notice”. The minutes from the August committee meeting also said investment plans were “being reviewed and possibly delayed”.

The November papers said a list of “potentially controversial decisions” was being developed in the context of the Hertfordshire and west Essex sustainability and transformation plan. They added that the CCG has “a duty to consult if a service is recommended for decommissioning”.

Full story in The HSJ 20 December 2016