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CCGs won’t get £800m fund

There was confirmation today of what has been widely predicted for months – that the entire £800m contingency fund held back from commissioning budgets will have to remain unspent by CCGs to balance the stubbornly large deficits in the provider sector.

In a letter, seen by HSJ, Paul Baumann, chief financial officer at NHS England, wrote: “The aggregate effect of this will be to increase the surplus across the whole of the commissioning sector by around £800m, which will help to offset the provider deficit position and help to secure a balanced position for the NHS overall.”

Every CCG had 1 per cent of their allocation held back at the start of the year, with any release of this funding requiring Treasury approval.

Last summer, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said this money was stripped out of budgets that “would have been available from CCGs for mental health services, community health services, primary care and other things”.

The hope was that at least some of this money could be released during the year, but this would have required a provider deficit south of £800m. The latest forecast suggests a year-end deficit of £873m for NHS trusts.

CCGs had long given up hope of seeing this money, and it is likely to be some relief that it’s actually being released to their accounts (although it can’t be spent), rather than siphoned off by the Treasury.

A new quango?

We’re still waiting for Sir Robert Naylor’s review of NHS estates to emerge (some people expected it to appear during last week’s budget) but we now know at least one of his recommendations will be adopted by the government.

The former UCLH chief executive was appointed last year to advise the government over the NHS estate, and said in June that there needed to be better strategic oversight of NHS property.

It’s now been confirmed that the government is planning to establish a new national body to provide “strategic estate planning” for the health service.

Health minister Lord O’Shaugnessy confirmed the government had accepted Sir Robert’s recommendation, but further details on the new organisation, including its form and “models for its future ownership”, will be set out at a future date.

The Naylor review, which is expected to see daylight soon, is part of efforts by the Treasury to raise £2bn from the NHS estate and to build 26,000 houses on the released land.