STAFFORD’S health chief has warned of tough times ahead as commissioners battle a projected £7.1m black hole at the end of this financial year.
As the end of their first year of operation draws near members of Stafford and Surrounds CCG were told auditors had issued a stark prediction of the consequences of future deficits.
Jackie Brown, director of finance, told the board external auditors Grant Thornton had warned that in future years they could be referred to the secretary of state if they posted a deficit although they were exempt this year as it’s their first year of operation.
“This is absolutely critical now that in the next 12 months we get our house in order,” she said. “We need to balance our books but we need to go a long way to proving we can do this job.”
Among the major drains on the CCG’s finances are Stafford and Cannock Hospitals with a current overspend of £307,000, projected to rise to £335,000.
The CCG has also overspent on the University Hospital of North Staffordshire by £408,000 with a projected end of year figure of £445,000.
Chief executive Andy Donald said non-emergency ambulances had contributed £200,000 to the deficit. The service is commissioned for the group by another CCG.
Ms Brown said: “We can’t rely on other organisations to lead for us. We need to make sure we scrutinise every area of spending we have.”
Mr Donald said: “The next two years are going to be really, really tough. We are going to have to make some really difficult decisions to get back into financial balance.”