• CCG board papers say estates and technology transformation fund will be reduced to around £400m
  • NHS England says CCG’s figures are inaccurate
  • Bids for premises funding required to go through STP process
  • Source warns the fund could be reduced to “balance the books”

Commissioners have raised concerns that the £900m estates and technology transformation fund for primary care may be reduced by almost £300m.

One source told HSJ the money could instead be used to “balance the books” in other areas of the NHS.

At a recent governing body meeting, West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group suggested what is left of the £900m estates and technology transformation fund is to be reduced by almost £300m.

CCG board papers, published on 29 September, said: “We understand the fund has been reduced from an expected £700m to over £400m but await further detail.”

A CCG spokesman said information on the reduction was given to the group by NHS England.

However, NHS England said this week the figure in the CCG board paper is inaccurate and that £600m will be available for the fund, with indicative totals set for the next two financial years. It made no further comment about the fund.

In December 2014, NHS England announced a £1bn primary care transformation fund, spread over four years, to improve access and expand the range of services offered in primary care. In January last year, GPs were asked to submit bids for the first tranche of funding, estimated to be £250m, for investments in 2015-16. The exact amount allocated to GPs for 2015-16 is yet to be clarified.

In October 2015, CCGs were asked to submit bids for the fund, renamed as the estates and technology transformation fund, on behalf of GPs in order to improve premises and accelerate the use of technology within primary care.

Another CCG’s board papers said bids for premises improvement funding now have to be put through the sustainability and transformation planning process.

Herefordshire CCG’s governing body papers said its technology funding bid had been approved but bids for premises improvement will now have go through the STP process.

Its board papers, published on 27 September, said: “The CCG has been successful in securing our technology bid which will support the [local digital roadmaps] development in primary care. There will be some due diligence activities pending final sign off by [NHS England], but funding will be available from December 2016.

“The premises schemes submitted as part of the process is now required to go through a further prioritisation process as part of the wider sustainability and transformation planning process.”

One commissioning sector source told HSJ no official announcement has been made that the fund is going to be reduced, but there is “a suspicion that it may be reduced to balance the books if there are significant overspends in the rest of the NHS”.

“There has been significant delay in making any announcements this year so [commissioners are] unlikely to get this year’s full allocation and the next two years are still subject to negotiation,” they added.