NHS England has implemented a “financial recovery plan” for specialised services in the South of England, one of its directors has confirmed.

Karen Wheeler, national director for transformation and corporate operations, said the move had been one of the “mitigations” which had allowed NHS England to downgrade specialised services on its risk register from “amber-red” to “amber”.

Ms Wheeler was speaking at the national commissioner’s board meeting last month.

According to NHS England’s latest verified figures, which are for the third quarter of 2015-16, specialised services in the South were forecasting an overspend of £44.7m for the year unless further action was taken.

Of NHS England’s four commissioning regions, the South was the only one predicting an overspend.

A source in the region, who preferred not to be named, told HSJ the South had been formally designated as being in “financial turnaround”, with the initial focus being on the Wessex commissioning hub.

However, NHS England told HSJ there was no official turnaround designation and nothing had been imposed on the region.

A spokesman said there had been significant growth in the demand for specialised services and the regional team was working with providers to ensure value for money.

He added that sustainability and transformation plans would set the course for specialised services over the next five years.