NHS group is expected to double its target deficit

Fareham Community Hospital in Salisbury Green.
Fareham Community Hospital in Salisbury Green.

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AN NHS organisation which chooses and pays for different health services is forecasting a £10m deficit so far this financial year.

Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had a target deficit of £4m but revealed in its meeting earlier this month it was currently more than double that figure.

It comes as the organisation spent £427,000 in 2015/16 on empty space within Fareham Community Hospital.

Andy Wood, chief finance officer for the CCG, said: ‘Our CCG has historically been poorly funded compared with others and for several years has struggled to live within its means.

‘In 2015/16, we had a budget deficit of £4m.

‘This had to be repaid in 2016/17 and other pressures, including additional clinical activity at acute hospitals and a rise in continuing healthcare costs, has led the CCG to increase its forecast deficit from £4m to £10m.

‘This is out of a total budget of £263m.’

During the meeting, a report on the finances was discussed and showed the forecast deficit for month eight (November) of the year was £7.1m but this had risen to £10m by month nine (December).

It said year-to-date, the CCG had overspent by £7.5m.

Mr Wood added: ‘Financing and costs are issues across the NHS and we are delivering plans for 2017/18 to ensure that the services we commission are affordable and the best we can provide for our patients.

‘The financial position looks like it will be challenging for us again in the next financial year and we are continuing to work hard to identify savings.

‘This is a very much an ongoing process for us.’

Lucy Doherty, lay member of the CCG’s governing board said at the meeting it seemed like they were being punished.

‘It sounds like we are being punished for running a tightly closed ship,’ she said.

‘If we were a basket case, would we get more funding?’

In response, Richard Samuel, chief officer of Fareham and Gosport CCG, said: ‘We knew this year was going to be a very difficult year but we put in place a number of services and we are hitting our savings targets.’

The CCG has a budget of £263m and more than £130m goes towards paying for services it commissions on behalf of its local population from acute hospitals. This is mainly, but not exclusively, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.

Primary care commissioning – services the CCG buys from GP practices – accounts for £62m and continuing care more than £22m.

The two other biggest areas of spending are mental health and community health services.