FINANCE: The biggest clinical commissioning group in the country has been issued with NHS England ‘directions’ because of its longstanding financial troubles.

Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group is forecasting a cumulative deficit of £78.9m by the end of 2015-16, the largest such deficit in the country for a CCG, and in June its health economy was placed in the “success regime”.

NHS England is allowed to exercise “formal powers of direction” if it thinks a CCG is failing or at risk of failing its functions.

The NEW Devon directions, which came into force this week, require the CCG to take a number of actions.

It will have to implement an improvement plan, including a financial recovery plan that sets out how it will achieve an in-year deficit of no more than £40m in 2015-16, and no in-year deficit the year after.

It will have to implement the recommendations of an independent CCG leadership “capacity and capability review”, which has been carried out by the consultancy Carnall Farrar.

The directions indicate that a separate review will look at the CCG’s in-house commissioning support services.

NEW Devon will also have to secure NHS England’s approval for the appointment of future directors and members of its senior management team.

The CCG said it had agreed its financial plan with NHS England and at the end of quarter one was “on track” to deliver it.

“We will work to meet all expectations placed on us and look to quickly move out of this formal oversight,” it added.

NHS England said the directions would trigger additional support for NEW Devon under the success regime – the programme launched by national NHS bodies in June to turn around troubled health economies.

Anthony Farnsworth, NHS England’s director of commissioning operations in the South West, said: “The directions mean we can step up the impetus and ensure that the CCG is fully equipped and supported for the challenges that lie ahead.”

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