• CCGs have overspent against their financial plans by £58.5m in the first four months of the financial year
  • Similar position to the same stage in 2016-17, after which overspending grew to almost £600m by the end of the year
  • Kernow CCG the only one to say it has officially revised its forecast

Local commissioners overspent against their financial plans by nearly £60m in the four months to August, but NHS England still expects them to deliver a near breakeven position by the end of 2017-18.

According to the national body’s finance report for September, clinical commissioning groups overspent against their financial plans by £58.5m in the first four months of the 2017-18 financial year.

This is similar to the position at the same stage in 2016-17, after which the overspend grew to almost £600m by the end of the year.

The report acknowledges that there is £370m of “net risk” to this year’s position, but officially forecasts that CCGs will end the year with an overspend of just £17m. The forecast overspend appears to be fully accounted for by Kernow CCG.

A detailed breakdown of CCG overspends has not been published for the four months, but one was published after the first three months.

Among the CCGs showing the largest overspends in the first quarter were Somerset, Coastal West Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and Morecambe Bay – but they are all expected to recover by the end of the year.

It is likely that more CCGs will seek to revise their forecasts throughout the year, but this requires a formal process and agreement from NHS England.

The year to date and forecast overspends for the local commissioning sector are offset by unexpected income and underspends in NHS England’s central budgets, including “operations and information”.

Similar to last year, the published plans do not include the benefit of the “system risk reserve”, which CCGs have contributed £360m to, or 0.5 per cent of their allocations. A further £200m has been set aside by NHS England.

As in 2016-17, it is likely that most or all of the risk reserve will remain unspent in order to offset deficits in the provider sector, which are forecast to be greater than £500m.

NHS England said the adverse year to date positions could be due to factors such as the phasing of efficiency plans, which could reduce costs towards the end of the year.