FINANCE: The “gap” the primary care trust is forecasting in its 2011-12 finances has widened by £2.2m during January, its latest financial reports show.

At the end of December 2010, the PCT’s board was told NHS Oldham would have to make financial recovery and quality, innovation, productivity, and prevention (QIPP) savings of £32.5m to breakeven in the coming financial year. This figure has now increased to £34.7m, according to February board papers.

The increased gap had three elements:

  • The PCT had planned for a reduction in the tariff price for NHS services of 2 per cent. In December the Department of Health confirmed that the cut would be just 1.5 per cent overall, but modelling by the PCT showed that the impact on its costs would be only 1.1 per cent.
  • NHS North West issued guidance that PCTs would be required to show at least a 1 per cent surplus for next year, on top of the 2 per cent of their allocations that would be “top sliced” by the strategic health authority.
  • A historic under-spend of funds received by the PCT for its cancer network, which the PCT now forecasts it will be obliged to spend next year.

A February report on the commissioner’s financial strategy said savings plans already in operation or identified would reduce the financial hole to £14.5m.

It added: “A further £43m of ‘opportunity’ is identified within the PCT’s financial recovery plan, using available benchmarking information. It should be noted that this includes a level of duplication, as a number of schemes address the same areas.

“In addition, it is very unlikely that the full opportunity identified could be delivered. The further opportunity will be refined to provide a challenging but achievable target for 2011-12. The 2011-12 target for financial recovery is likely to be in the region of £25m, to ensure sufficient headroom and allow for slippage or unplanned pressures,” the report said.