• Joint financial officer appointed to the three CCGs in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes integrated care system 
  • Chris Ford joins from regional NHS England finance team
  • The largest of the three CCGs he will head up, Bedfordshire CCG, is in financial special measures

An “advanced” health economy has appointed a joint chief finance officer to work across its three commissioners.

Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes “integrated care system” has appointed Chris Ford to head up the finances for its three clinical commissioning groups.

He joins from NHS England where he has been director of finance for the central Midlands area since October 2012. Prior to that he held roles as the finance director and deputy chief executive of Luton and Bedfordshire Primary Care Trust Cluster.

He has taken up the new role on a permanent basis.

The appointment comes after Patricia Davies was appointed as joint accountable officer for the same CCGs. Both will start their new jobs on 1 November 2018.

BLMK was deemed to be one of the more advanced health economies in terms of system integration, and was named among the first eight ICS areas last year.

A spokeswoman for the sustainability and transformation partnership said the system has accepted a system control total and the area will pool some of its “provider sustainability fund” allocation as part of this, but did not explain how this would work in practice.

Previously, this development had been in doubt as a board paper in April 2018 to the joint governing body of CCGs said it was unlikely to accept a control total for 2018-19.

It did not give a reason, but at the time Bedfordshire CCG said in its own board papers that signing up to a system total would have to include a move away from the payment by results tariff and an agreement not to worsen individual CCG’s financial performance. It is not clear if this has now been agreed.

Bedfordshire CCG, the largest of the three CCGs in the STP, reentered NHSE’s financial special measures in December last year after falling behind its financial plan. It finished the year £15m worse than planned. It was first given legal directions by NHS England in 2015.

The other two CCGs for Luton and Milton Keynes ended the year £1.6m and £1.9m better than planned.

The move to an integrated care system has also caused concern among local authorities, with three out of four local council leaders threatening to quit the STP amid concerns that their views were being “overlooked”.

Two out of three acute trusts in the STP, Luton and Dunstable Hospital Foundation Trust and Bedford Hospital Trust, are also planning to merge, although the date to do so has been subject to delays.