FINANCE: Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group has expressed irritation at NHS England’s decision to reduce the CCG’s budget by £3.4m in a transfer to specialised services.

The governing body of the £260m-turnover CCG opposed the transfer but an arbitration process ruled in favour of NHS England, with no right of appeal.

CCG chair Anand Chitnis said the group did “not recognise the size of the proposed adjustment as reconciling to that activity transferred to NHS England for specialised services”.

“We understand that costs and activity around specialised services are complex and that any analysis will have uncertainties, however there is no indication that Solihull patients disproportionately utilise specialised services,” he added.

It is understood the arbitration process was carried out by a regional officer of NHS England, other than Midlands and the East.

Dr Chitnis said the governing body “would have preferred the arbitration to have been conducted by an independent body, rather than another regional office of NHS England”.

The governing body did not believe a CCG “should accept removal of resources allocated to drive up the health and wellbeing of its population where it cannot be assured of the fairness of the process carried out”, he added.

Solihull also raised concerns about the tight timescale of the process which meant “too many assumptions” had to be made about finance.

Mr Chitnis said CCGs had already faced “unexpected costs pressures” from NHS England this year.

Solihull “has not been given any assurance about future allocations”, he added.

Alison Taylor, director of finance for Birmingham Solihull and the Black Country area team of NHS England, told HSJ: “The area team ran an inclusive and transparent process across the West Midlands as part of the specialised services budget transfer.  This process involved all commissioning organisations in the region.

“A clear set of agreed principles were developed in order to move allocation to where expenditure is incurred.  We acknowledge the complexity and challenges involved in this exercise, which affected both CCGs and area teams.”