West Norfolk health chiefs face £2.2 million deficit

Dr Ian Mack - Chairman of the new West Norfolk Commissioning group. ENGANL00120130319164734
Dr Ian Mack - Chairman of the new West Norfolk Commissioning group. ENGANL00120130319164734

Health chiefs in West Norfolk are facing the challenge of reducing a forecast £2.2 million deficit in five months.

West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group has for the first time gone into the red after seeing a rise in costs from hospitals, including the Queen Elizabeth, and prescribing medicines.

But the authority has a legal requirement to have a one per cent surplus, £2.3m, at the end of the financial year.

The CCG have brought in an interim financial recovery director and two project managers to help them get back in the black.

Dr Ian Mack, CCG chairman, said: “So far it is very early days, but the early signs are the action we have taken is having the expected effect but the next few months will be crucial to delivering the financial recovery plan.

“There is a national issue about the finances of hospital services and commissioners, so this part of an issue happening across the country.”

A financial report submitted to yesterday’s governing board meeting reported a £2.1 million overspend in acute medical care from hospitals.

The report states that the main overspends are againstthe QEH, with £1,349,000 and £249,000 at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. There is also a £329,000 overspend on high cost drugs, primarily driven by the QEH.

A higher number than anticipated elected operations, including orthapedics along with the use of expensive injections are some of the reason behind the overspend.

The CCG has served an activity query notice on the Gayton Road Hospital Trust.

Chief officer Dr Sue Crossman told yesterday’s governing board that acute trusts are required to inform the CCG of changes would impact on budgets, which helps to predict shortfalls.

She said: “They should tell us if a consultant adopts a new practice or they appoint a new consultant. All these things should be communicated with us so we know there is going to be a peak in activity.”

The meeting was also told that CCGs across the country were are facing deficits.

Prof Paul Jenkins said: “The biggest CCGS are having the biggest deficits surely that is sending a huge message - or it should be.”

Dr Mack said: “Our challenge is: we were appointed by an Act of Parliament and we have a statutory duty to break even. What we have to do is deliver financial balance and look at ways of sustaining that. Clinical transformation will impact on how services are planned for.”