FINANCE: The Arden primary care trust cluster is reporting almost double the planned level of surplus for the year to date, but has held talks with providers over possible bail outs after identifying a “high degree of financial pressure” in the local health economy.

The cluster, which includes Coventry primary care trust and Warwickshire PCT, ran up a £5.67m surplus by the end of September, compared to a plan of £2.9m. It meant that commissioners almost hit their full-year surplus target of £5.8m in the first six months of the year.

However, board papers for the cluster say: “There is a high degree of financial pressure elsewhere in the Arden system… discussions are taking place with local providers to establish progress in delivering their challenging cost improvement targets and, where the risk is high, to determine whether financial assistance may be required in 2011-12.”

The papers say that the cluster’s finance director will agree any “support package” for providers with the Arden board and the Midlands and East cluster leadership team.

The cluster’s finance report also said acute contracts were subject to “robust management”.

Board papers for the cluster say commissioners are also set to deliver their quality, innovation, productivity and prevention programme in full, although some under-performing savings schemes will be mitigated by over-performance elsewhere.

The cluster is not expecting to exhaust its 1 per cent general contingency fund. As of November, other reserves were also not yet committed.