FINANCE: A financially challenged clinical commissioning group is planning to use almost £500,000 earmarked by GP practices to help reduce its own deficit.   

In a letter sent to all GP practices in its area yesterday, Bedfordshire CCG said it would keep £460,000 earned by GP practices as part of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 prescribing incentives schemes. The schemes encourage practices to bring down their prescribing costs.

However, the 2014-15 scheme would be unaffected because it is “so important to maximising value for money”.

Bedfordshire CCG is projecting a £28.8m end of year deficit. The letter said it had been forced to consider “a number of highly unpalatable options [to] ensure our overspend is no greater”.

“Whilst this [funding] may be earmarked by practices, we cannot defend spending this money at a time when we cannot afford all of our direct patient services,” it added.

“As a GP member organisation, we have an opportunity to make a visible contribution to addressing the financial shortfall of our organisation.”

The letter continued: “This will demonstrate to all providers of NHS healthcare the seriousness of the situation that we face and that GPs are at the forefront of leading the recovery.”

Bedfordshire CCG is due to be allocated £476m from NHS England for 2015-16, which is up by 7 per cent from its 2014-15 funding.

The CCG’s accountable officer, Paul Hassan, said the funding boost would “make a contribution to helping us get our finances back on track [but] we must remember that while we continue to spend more money than we receive, we will still have tough decisions to make to provide affordable, high quality care”.