CCG faces £2m funding gap after overnight cut

NHS managers are cutting huge sums from CCG budgets at short notice and have yet to create a mechanism for investing in primary care, a GP and former MP has warned.

Dr Howard Stoate: investment in primary care
Dr Howard Stoate: investment in primary care

Bexley CCG chairman Dr Howard Stoate, a GP and former Labour MP for Dartford, Kent, warned that England's 211 CCGs are working on ‘extremely tight running costs’, resulting in a lack of ‘expertise’ and ‘capacity’.

Speaking at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on primary care and public health on 18 July, Dr Stoate warned his CCG would have to make more cuts than planned because his budget is unexpectedly shrinking.

‘The goalposts keep moving,’ he said. ‘In order to be authorised as a CCG we have to hit our financial target and we planned on that at the beginning of the year.'

But he added: 'I have lost £2m this morning. I have been told NHS England has taken £500,000 off primary care, £1.2m off dental care and we still don’t know where we are with specialised commissioning.'

He said the CCG had 'lost £500,000 to PropCo because they can’t work out the value of our property', although NHS Property Services disputes this figure.

Dr Stoate added: 'So all of a sudden my best-laid plans of a £12m quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) scheme to balance [the budget] this year has been blown out of the water this morning by a £2m gap that wasn’t there last week.

‘We are constantly coming up against a lack of expertise, a lack of depth, a lack of breath, in many cases, of what we are able to do.’

Dr Stoate called for the government to start investing in primary care and warned that under the reformed NHS in England, there is no mechanism for CCGs to do it.

‘We do not invest enough in primary care,’ he said. ‘We talk about it, we just don’t do it.

He told GP: ‘There is almost no mechanism for it. That is the problem. Everyone says there needs to be more resources in primary care. The only people that can make it happen are the government and oddly enough it never seems to happen.

‘We don’t hold the primary care contracts. Where are the resources coming from to help GPs with the extra workload they are taking on?

‘I don’t think the government has any firm plans to do this. It is absolutely essential.’

A spokesperson for NHS Property Services said: 'We have been clear from the start what the figures are and we do not recognise the suggested £500,000. NHS Property Services currently charges Bexley CCG considerably less than this for space they occupy in administrative buildings previously used by Bexley PCT.

'The amount the CCG pays is based on information submitted by the former PCT in January 2013 and signed off by the CCG’s chief financial officer.

'In addition, NHS Property Services is committed to revising these charges by the third quarter of 2013/14, based on actual costs. We are committed to working transparently with all commissioners to reduce costs and maximise use of properties.'

NHS England has yet to respond.

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