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Not business as usual

Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group has appointed one of its own senior directors to spearhead its improvement plan following a critical NHS England review of the organisation.

In an email sent to CCG staff from accountable officer Maddy Ruff and seen by HSJ, the CCG said its director of delivery Nicki Doherty would not be “working on business as usual” and would instead be focusing on developing the improvement plan. An early draft of the plan is expected to be presented to the governing body next month, with a final version expected in May. 

Ms Doherty may well appreciate her usual work being put on hold as she might find her new project puts a lot on her plate. The external review of the CCG identified widespread issues about poor behaviours by senior staff, as well as dissatisfaction over how bullying cases are handled.

Ms Ruff also used the email to shoot down speculation she would be leaving the CCG in the summer. HSJ has heard from multiple sources close to the CCG that Ms Ruff intends to leave the organisation following the publication of the improvement plan.

Work in progress

An inadequate-rated clinical commissioning group is making “good progress” in addressing a range of problems laid bare in a scathing review last March, HSJ reported on Tuesday.

Consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers said last year that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG’s problems were “among the broadest and deepest set of issues facing any CCG we have worked with”.

A follow-up report by the consultants, published this month, strikes a more encouraging tone, stating it has made “good progress against a very significant improvement agenda”.

But the CCG has expressed concerns about its 2019-20 control total. It has submitted a plan for a £35m deficit control total next year – in line with its £35.1m planned deficit this year. The substantial deficit position would still be an improvement on the £42m deficit it recorded last year.

But NHS England has set a £25m deficit target, according to a report by CCG chief officer Jan Thomas, also discussed at its March board meeting.

A negotiation naturally involves optimistic demands from both parties followed by a meeting in the middle. But national leaders need to be realistic about what is achievable, or they will perversely punish poorer health economies to the detriment of local services and the patients they serve.