• Health economy warns of little scope to recover finances
  • Planned deficit was for £77.3m
  • Deficits in the four east Kent CCGs account for almost £40m

The Kent and Medway health economy is likely to end the year with a net deficit of at least £113m, nearly £36m worse than previously forecast.

Larger than expected deficits at clinical commissioning groups in the east of the county and at Dartford and Gravesham Trust are behind the slump in performance in one of the country’s most challenged health economies.

After seven months of the financial year, organisations were £98.5m in the red, including provider and commissioner sustainability funding, against a plan of £61.9m.

A report on Kent and Medway sustainability and transformation partnership’s finances – presented to West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body last month – suggested there was little scope to recover in the remaining months of the year, and the year end deficit could be £113m against a plan of £77.3m. Deficits in the four east Kent CCGs would account for £38.2m of this.

And reports to this month’s meetings of Ashford, Canterbury and Coastal, Thanet, and South Kent Coast CCGs showed their position has deteriorated further. The reports indicated a predicted overspend of £11m with the area’s main acute provider and overspends on both continuing healthcare costs and the independent sector. This could push the CCGs’ deficit as high as £60m, although £49m is more likely.

All four CCGs are under directions from NHS England.

An issue across the STP area is that many organisations are not delivering the level of savings expected. Year end projections for cost improvement/quality, innovation, productivity, prevention plans are £12m less than planned.

Meanwhile, temporary staff costs at two acute trusts – Medway, and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells – are higher than expected, as cost savings have not been fully realised.

Glenn Douglas, accountable officer for the eight CCGs and chief executive of the STP, said: “The NHS in Kent and Medway is working hard to transform to provide better patient care, meet rising demand, and keep within budget.

“As part of the move to managing the financial position collectively, we now collate data at a Kent and Medway level rather than reporting it by individual organisations as previously. This brings greater clarity around the scale of the challenge, which we are working collectively to review and address.

“All of this underlines the need for transformation to progress at scale and pace. We will do this by working together, sharing resources and expertise, and making sure that all parts of the system provide an NHS we can be proud of.

“We have made real progress this year on integrating care, which is crucial to our vision of preventing ill-health, and improving the care of frail older people and people with complex health needs.”