Northumberland health group in special measures overspends by millions

Karen Bower, of Northumberland CCG.
Karen Bower, of Northumberland CCG.

The NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group has failed again to meet its financial targets, despite having being placed in legal directions and special measures to curb overspending.

Latest figures show the CCG – which buys health services for the county – overspent by £17million in 2017-18, bringing its overall deficit to £57million.

Having been given a budget spend of £518million for the past year, Northumberland’s CCG spent £535million.

The CCG’s acting chairman Karen Bower, however, said that the figures actually represented progress, saying: “We did not meet our original target of a £4.5million deficit – which would have meant £30million cost-cutting

“But after an extensive mid-year financial review, we did come in under their revised target, which acknowledged the fact we had to deal with a long and difficult winter.

“For next year, our aim is to run no deficit at all, compared to the £17million deficit run-up over the past year.”

A report to the CCG’s annual meeting noted of the £17million: ‘The in-year deficit represents 3.3% of the CCG’s overall budget.

‘To recover our financial position and ensure future sustainability we have:

Taken advantage of support from NHS England and implemented recommended actions,

Established a programme management office focusing on our financial plan,

Delivered a plan to make efficiencies while safeguarding quality and patient experience,

Reduced the size of in-year deficit from previous years.

‘There is still work to be done to recover our financial position but with the work already undertaken and future plans, we are placed in the best position to do so.’

Karen Bower added: “Although the figures show there was a £17million overspend over the course of the past year, those figures actually reflect a lot of hard work and success in reducing costs.”

Of the money spent by the CCG over the past year, 99 per cent was spent on care and front-line services with one per cent spent on administration costs.’

Graeme Anderson, Local Democracy Reporting Service