Northumberland health group no longer inadequate

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The group which buys health services for Northumberland is no longer rated inadequate after working to improve its precarious financial position.

It was revealed on Thursday that NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was deemed to require improvement in its annual assessment for last year – a step up on its 2016-17 rating.

All CCGs are subject to an annual assessment by NHS England which looks at strengths, challenges and areas for improvement before applying a headline rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate – like Ofsted does with schools.

Northumberland’s CCG overspent by £17million in 2017-18, taking its overall deficit to £57million.

However, this did represent progress – despite it missing an original target of a £4.5million deficit, which would have meant £30million of cost-cutting – as significant savings were made without disrupting services to patients in Northumberland.

Vanessa Bainbridge, accountable officer for the CCG, said: “This year’s assessment of the CCG has recognised many positive examples of work and consequently our overall rating has improved from inadequate last year to requires improvement.

“NHS England has noted important areas of progress, in particular, the CCG met the revised forecast deficit following the initial deterioration of the financial position in 2017/18, we strengthened our governance processes and continually delivered the majority of NHS constitutional standards.

“The assessment also highlighted a number of areas of strength on key indicators and clinical priorities and as such the CCG is confident that people in Northumberland are receiving high-quality healthcare services.

“Our priority is to maintain our strong focus on finance while continuing to make real improvements in both clinical pathways and patient experience for local people.

“As such, we fully expect our progress to be reflected in a better rating this time next year.”

The CCG is responsible for the planning and purchasing of Northumberland’s healthcare.

It is a GP-led organisation and all 42 practices within Northumberland are members of the CCG, serving a population of more than 322,000 patients.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service