• Vale Royal and South Cheshire CCGs unveil 2017-18 plans for capped expenditure process
  • CCGs say they are unable to invest additional funding in primary care
  • Plans reveal £4.5m in savings from elective care and £4.8m in” unidentified savings”

Commissioners in Cheshire are set to cut the growth in their primary care budgets in response to the national capped expenditure process, HSJ can reveal.

A savings plan published by Vale Royal and South Cheshire clinical commissioning groups reveal plans to “remove” growth to all primary care budgets which are outside of GP contracts.

The CCGs have told HSJ that they are not cutting the value of already promised primary care budgets, but “are unable to invest additional funding in this area.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association’s general practice committee, told HSJ that promises to increase spending in general practice are often “not being matched by actions.” 

In May 2017 NHS England and NHS Improvement introduced the “capped expenditure process” which aims to reduce expenditure in areas with the biggest overspends.

The Cheshire sustainability and transformation partnership was named as one of the 14 areas to be placed in the programme and in response have published a plan to save more than £20m in 2017-18.

As part of the proposals, published this week, commissioners hope to save £180,000 through “a small reduction in the [commissioning support unit] support contract and the removal of growth attached to primary care budgets which are not part of the GMS Contract.”

“This is consistent with other budget allocations where the default has been for zero growth,” the proposal added.

Commissioners have told HSJ that the plans will not impact the £3 per head of population transformation funding which CCGs are mandated to invest in primary care over the next two years.

The CCGs’ plans also identify £4.5m in savings from elective care and £4.8m in “other unidentified” savings.

According to the document, plans have been submitted to NHS England and NHS Improvement and all proposals will be subject to a quality and equality impact assessment. 

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s general practice committee, said:” We regularly hear that general practice is a priority for the NHS and that the intention is to increase the share of NHS spending on general practice…However, the reality is that all too often the words are not being matched by actions.

“Capped expenditure plans are leading to cuts in services at a time when the needs of patients is growing. General practice desperately needs real terms increases in investment, not more funding freezes or cuts, in order to cope with this rising demand and to resolve the current crisis facing practices.”