The accountable officer of a troubled clinical commissioning group in the North West has resigned

Professor Steve Cox, clinical chief executive at St Helens CCG and a local GP, said he wishes to focus on his general practice work and academic interests.

The CCG was rated inadequate by NHS England in July due to concerns over finance and planning.

It also hit national headlines in August by proposing to freeze all non-urgent referrals to secondary care for four months. The plans were dropped a few days later, although several other rationing measures are still being pursued.

In the first four months of the year, the CCG reported an overspend of 2.8m, which was £1.1m worse than planned.

Its finance report for the month acknowledged the “poor start to the financial year”, adding: “The CCG is reporting the forecast delivery of the plan for the financial year as an aspirational target.”

It’s year-end plan is for an overspend of £3.1m.

The CCG has released a statement from Professor Cox, which said: “I wish the CCG every success in the future in particular in managing the current financial challenges.”

A spokeswoman for the CCG said Professor Cox has resigned and left the organisation this week. It is working with NHS England to appoint an interim clinical chief executive. 

Geoffrey Appleton, lay chair at the CCG, said: “I want to place on record my personal thanks to Steve for all he has done for the CCG and for his contribution to improving health in the borough. It is due in no small part to his leadership that we have such a strong relationship with the local authority and his commitment to integration with them.

“His leadership and contribution in setting up the CCG, gaining authorisation and the creation of the People’s Board has been immense. We all wish him well as he now focuses on his clinical work for which he is so rightly admired, not least by his patients.”