Healthcare group reveals the full extent of financial woes as shake-up of governance is proposed

Bedford Hospital south wing accident and emergency.
Bedford Hospital south wing accident and emergency.

The group responsible for buying healthcare for the people of Beds has laid bare the full extent of its financial woes during a meeting today (Wednesday).

The Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) revealed exactly how it had spiralled into £24.5 million worth of debt by the end of December - £1.8 million greater than the anticipated forecast deficit.

Detailed figures were revealed during a meeting this afternoon of the commission’s governing body.

It was reported last month that the group, which is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the population of Beds, is facing a £28.8 million deficit by the end of the financial year which, due to risk factors , could rise to more than £30 million. Interim chief finance officer David Gilbert revealed at the time that he was ‘losing sleep’ over the figures.

He was brought in following the resignation of director of finance James Corrigan on December 31.

The executive summary in the latest financial report said: “The year to date adverse variance of £1.8 million is of great concern and the CCG must effectively manage financial risk in the coming months if it is to avoid these cost pressures further increasing the year end deficit.”

In response to the ‘loss of financial control’ a full review of the governance of the CCG has now been carried out.

A report presented to the meeting said: “The recent loss of financial control and the ensuing financial recovery has highlighted numerous improvements to be made in the governance within our organisation.”

If given the go ahead the shake up will include a shift of power from executive to lay members, which will improve governance and accountability.

“The executive team dominates the voting majority on the governing body, which makes executive recommendations less likely to be challenged and appropriately changed or rejected,” the report said.

“A lay or non-executive majority is traditionally used in the NHS with the aim of ensuring that the executive is better held to account by the governing body.”

Before any changes are made to the structure of the governing body, the proposals will have to be approved by CCG members and stakeholders.