NEW Devon CCG response to coverage of its financial position

11 May 2017

A series of misleading and inaccurate stories regarding the finances of NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group have been published online and across social media, based on an article published in the Health Service Journal last week (4 May).It appears that this original story has been tampered with and is currently being circulated as a genuine story.

The recent coverage describes the CCG’s in-year financial deficit and our current position with Directions issued by NHS England.  There are a number of points to correct or clarify. 

Claim: “NHS England to take over Devon CCG as it goes bust” This is wholly inaccurate. The CCG’s financial deficit position has been recognised by NHS England and the CCG has cash resources to support this position.  The CCG also has a longer term financial plan as part of a wider Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), which aims to be at break-even.

Claim: “The CCG ends the year with a much worse than expected £42m deficit….This is £13m worse than forecast”.  The CCG’s in-year deficit for 2016/17 is £42m.  It is £13m more than the original planned deficit, but this represents around 1 per cent of the CCG’s total annual budget.

Claim: “The CCG has been given new legal directions as its spending exceeds the amount made available by the Government.” This claim is inaccurate.  The CCG has been issued with updated Directions, which are less onerous than ones previously issued and this reflects the progress the CCG has made.  The simple fact is we have had a number of legal directions removed by NHS England because the hard work we have put in has actually improved our situation. The legal Directions remaining relate to our financial recovery plan and are purely a continuation of the previous document we were working to.

[What are Directions?  These are essentially a set of actions that the organisation must undertake in order to improve the financial position.]

NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group was issued with formal Directions by NHS England in August 2015. 

Following the Directions being issued in August 2015, the CCG undertook work to address the necessary actions, including a capability and capacity review, development of a Financial Recovery Plan and appointment of a Turnaround Director.

NHS England undertook a review of the status of the actions arising from the original Directions and it was recognised that after a lot of hard work, the CCG had completed a significant number of steps to address the Directions.  The situation has improved and NHS England has reflected this by reducing the number of Directions the CCG is now under.  NHS England has taken the step of refreshing the formal Directions originally applied to NEW Devon CCG in August 2015.    

The updated directions have significantly reduced to two areas, namely financial recovery and executive team/senior appointments.  

These are not a new set of Directions, but updated Directions, which are less onerous, reflecting progress made since August 2015. 

The Directions have an end date of 30 June 2018, requiring a review of the progress against them in time to determine whether they can be recommended to be removed or replaced.

Claim: “If clinicians in the CCG refuse to put patients at risk, their management will be taken over by NHS England and cuts will simply be imposed.”  This is plainly wrong and the Directions make no mention of such action.   This will cause unnecessary distress for staff in the NHS, and patients within our area. NHS England has fulfilled its function as a regulator by updating the Directions, and they recognise that we have made real progress since the original Directions were issued.  This does not mean that NHS England is taking over the CCG. 

Claim: “Neither the CCG nor the providers could identify further savings without ‘having a severe impact on patient care’.” This statement is no longer relevant as it was a planning assumption that no longer applies when the CCG was setting its financial plan for 2016/17, which has since been superseded. The CCG now has a longer term financial plan as part of the Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

A CCG spokesperson said: “We are dismayed to see a series of misleading and inaccurate stories regarding the finances of NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group that have been published online and across social media, based on an article published in the Health Service Journal last week (4 May).It appears that this original story has been tampered with and is currently being circulated as a genuine story.

“We are correcting this information as we have a duty as a public record, but also urge people to consider the effect of misinformation on our dedicated NHS staff, who are working incredibly hard to deliver high quality health services and excellent patient care.”

A spokesperson from NHS England said: “We’re very pleased to have seen real progress by the CCG since the original directions were put in place. Clearly there is still considerable work to do in terms of improving the financial position, which highlights the importance of strategic change to put services on a sustainable footing for the longer term.”

 

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