Covid-19 outbreak 'generates uncertainty' in finances for Northumberland's health group

The Covid-19 outbreak ‘generates uncertainty’ at a time when Northumberland’s health commissioners had just started to get their finances back on track, say bosses.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 8:35 pm
NHS Northumberland CCG’s chief finance officer Jon Connolly.

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for planning and buying health services in the county, published its annual report for 2019-20 last week.

The summary of the annual report states that: ‘The CCG has significantly improved its financial position for the second year in a row.

‘This year, we moved out of special measures and legal directions, and with the assistance of commissioner sustainability funding, have seen a small surplus this financial year, further reducing the deficit carried forward from previous years.’

As reported in July 2019, the organisation had been in special measures since the new Ofsted-style ratings were introduced for 2015-16, but at that point returned to full financial independence.

Replacing the usual annual general meeting, the CCG has also released a series of videos from bosses – at https://www.northumberlandccg.nhs.uk/annual-public-meeting/ – with chief finance officer Jon Connolly explaining that the CCG managed to stay within its overall allocation for 2019-20 of £559million.

Around half of the CCG’s budget is spent on acute hospital care, with significant amounts also for mental health, primary care, prescribing, community services and continuing healthcare.

However, the vast bulk of the deficit accumulated before 2018-19 – £56.4million – remains, and conversations which had been taking place with NHS England over a plan to deal with this shortfall were put on hold for the coronavirus outbreak.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also led to the introduction of national interim financial arrangements and new revised financial allocations.

Northumberland’s CCG expects to stay within its allocated budget, Mr Connolly explained, but ‘the situation generates uncertainty’.

He added: “Maintaining financial performance and the quality of services will be a significant challenge during 2020-21 and beyond.

“Meeting this challenge and agreeing a plan to deal with the accumulated deficit will be the key financial priorities for the CCG during 2020-21 and in the following years.”

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