Exclusive: Commissioning at risk as PCTs miss savings targets

PCTs' failure to hit savings targets will put GP commissioning at risk and could see more private companies brought in to oversee NHS cuts, a GP investigation has found.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: CCGs in areas where QIPP plans are not met will see far greater financial pressures (Photograph: JH Lancy)
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: CCGs in areas where QIPP plans are not met will see far greater financial pressures (Photograph: JH Lancy)

Trusts across England will miss 2011/12 savings targets set out under the £20bn NHS efficiency drive, PCT board papers reveal.

GP leaders said this may force commissioners to play 'catch up' by cutting services even deeper. They accused the DH of breaking a pledge that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) would be free from PCT deficits. The NHS Alliance warned that CCGs 'demotivated' by a lack of PCT co-operation may bring in private contractors to oversee cuts.

The NHS in England needs to save £20bn by 2014/15 under the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) programme. PCT board papers show the scale of this challenge.

NHS Sussex cluster forecasts QIPP savings of £72.8m this year - just 65% of the £111.8m it was told to save. Papers from a board meeting on 24 January admit 'significant financial implications' for CCGs.

NHS North Essex cluster said it will only save £40.1m of its £57.3m target for this year. NHS Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth all reported that 'QIPP delivery remains a concern'. NHS Middlesbrough said it was 'some way off' achieving its QIPP targets. Many similar examples exist across England.

There's a mismatch between the DH commitment that CCGs shouldn't inherit PCT debts, and the reality that CCGs will be directly affected by budgets and QIPP that they take on - GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul.

CCGs in areas where QIPP plans are not met will see 'far greater financial pressures', Dr Nagpaul added.

NHS Alliance vice-chairman Dr Donal Hynes said CCGs handed deficits would become 'disillusioned'. Many PCTs had already made the easy cuts, leaving CCGs in a position 'a hundred times more difficult'.

A DH spokeswoman said CCGs would not inherit PCT debt that arose before 2011/12 and that PCTs would aim to be debt free at the end of 2012/13.

  • GP magazine is a media partner for Commissioning 2012, an event in London on 27-28 June featuring over 700 GPs and primary care managers. Speakers are expected to include health secretary Andrew Lansley and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.

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