A finance director has left his trust after 18 years to join a local clinical commissioning group with a budget of more than £1bn.

Stuart Hunter became chief finance officer at Dorset CCG on 30 May. He was finance director at Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust for more than 10 years.

He replaces Paul Vater who left Dorset CCG on 26 May after announcing his resignation earlier in the year and working his notice period.

The Dorset sustainability and transformation partnership is among nine areas identified by NHS England most likely to become an accountable care system.

Dorset CCG delivered a breakeven position in 2016-17 and reported a cumulative surplus of £17.7m.

Its annual report for 2016-17 said this financial year will be “the most financially challenged year since the CCG’s inception” – as the organisation aims to achieve a £1.6m deficit control total in 2017-18.

The CCG’s income for 2017-18 will be just over £1bn, compared to £982m in 2016-17.

Mr Hunter said: “I am looking forward to the challenge of working as a system through a collaborative approach across the Dorset health economy.”

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals FT has a control total of a £6.6m deficit this year, after it delivered a £2m surplus in 2016-17.

Last month HSJ reported that a business case is being drawn up between the trust and Poole Hospital FT asking the Competition and Markets Authority to remove or revise rules that block a potential merger.