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Clinical commissioning groups across the country found out their latest performance rating on Thursday. More than 60 CCGs have seen their overall rating change for 2018-19.

In total, 24 groups were rated “outstanding”. This includes 10 CCGs which moved into the top tier this year. 

Among this year’s high performers is Leeds CCG, which was formed following the merger of Leeds West, Leeds North and Leeds South and East groups last year – all three of which were rated “good” in 2017-18.

For others in the group, it is the continuation of strong success. A trio of CCGs – Bassetlaw, Salford and Wolverhampton – have now been rated “outstanding” every year since the current ratings system began four years ago. 

Meanwhile, Northumberland CCG’s “good” rating comes with the additional achievement that it is now out of financial special measures for the first time in nearly three years.

Janet Guy, chair of the group, said: “It has been a difficult road and to reach this point is amazing.

“Thanks to this rating, we will be able to take full advantage of the technology and healthcare revolution currently sweeping the NHS in the region.”

But spare a thought for the five CCGs which were newly rated “inadequate” in this year’s round of ratings. Among them are North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent CCGs, which both dropped two ratings from “good”. Both groups reported large financial overspends last year.

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The Department of Health and Social Care’s annual accounts show it avoided breaching its key spending limits in 2018-19 – but only with £600m worth of help from the Treasury.

The department’s annual accounts, which include the financial performance of all NHS organisations, showed a £646m underspend against its Parliament-approved revenue spending limit, against the £126bn budget.

A separate key spending limit controlled directly by the Treasury would have been overspent without the in-year support. This £124.3bn limit excludes ringfenced spending on depreciation, and was underspent by just £34m.

The DHSC claimed the underspends were achieved “without compromising on wider system support and while safeguarding patients and the wider public”.

The additional support from the Treasury, revealed by HSJ in February, was agreed to cover unexpected pressures, including those driven by no-deal Brexit preparations.