Five clinical commissioning groups in Sussex have to save £50m in the next nine months to achieve an agreed £65m deficit – and to gain access to sustainability funding.

The CCGs which make up the Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance had an overall deficit of £87m in 2017-18. With rising demand pressures, they calculate they need to save £50m to reduce this to £65m this year – 3.5 per cent of their overall allocation of £1.4bn.

This £65m deficit will then be matched by £65m from the commissioner sustainability fund from NHS England – effectively wiping out the deficit for the year and giving the CCGs a “significant opportunity to establish financial stability.”

In a statement, the five CCGs – Brighton and Hove, Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex, High Weald Lewes Havens and East Surrey – said they needed to be “open and honest” with patients, public and stakeholders about “difficult decisions” on services not thought to be cost-effective.

“As part of this, clinicians are currently reviewing all health and care services that have limited or no clinical benefit to patients to identify any areas where money is not being spent as effectively as it should be. Any decisions proposed as a result of this review will be based on whether a service is clinically effective and is a clinical priority, as well as input and feedback we have received from our local population,” they said.

They told HSJ they were aware that it would be a challenge within the time remaining but could not give more detail of where savings might be made.

The CCGs have launched a “big health and care conversation” with the public which is expected to last for the rest of the year. Longer term, prevention and care closer to home will be emphasised.

The CCGs’ financial positions

  • Brighton and Hove has broken even or made a surplus in previous years but faces a deficit of £12m this year, without action. It will try to save £14m or 3.3 per cent of its allocation.
  • High Weald Lewes Havens had a £8m deficit in 2017-18. It will try to save £9m this year – 3.9 per cent of allocation.
  • Crawley is in legal directions and finished 2017-18 with a £19m deficit. It will try to save £6m – 3.6 per cent of allocation.
  • Horsham and Mid Sussex ended 2017-18 with a deficit of £39m and is in legal directions. It aims to save £11m – 3.5 per cent of allocation.
  • East Surrey – which has been in directions since 2015-16 – had a deficit of £25m in the last financial year and will try to save £7.5m or 3.3 per cent of allocation.