Mid Essex overspend and recruitment delays hit NHS reform

A new group in Essex trying to bring in NHS reforms by April 2013 has asked for a delay in its programme and it also faces financial difficulties.

The Mid-Essex Clinical Commissioning Group is due to take over purchasing of health services next year.

But it says it now needs to recruit a director to oversee a turnaround in its operations to ensure the reforms programme gets back on track.

Targeted budget savings of £25m are also set for a shortfall of over £8m.

The Mid-Essex group will allocate budgets for GP services, hospital care, prescriptions, mental health cover and administration of the NHS.

However current patient needs have caused budgets to overshoot and planned savings targets will be missed.

The new commissioning group also has several key posts to fill so its transition will be delayed until the fourth wave.

The group still has to appoint an accountable officer to look after the running of its services, a chief operational officer and a chief finance officer.

Dr Bryan Spencer, vice-chairman of the Mid Essex group, said the financial pressure had come from overspends on emergency and non-scheduled hospital care and other commissioned care.

Affluent area

Scheduled spending has fallen below budget but not far enough to off-set the shortfalls.

He was sure the new turnaround director would help it catch up and recruitment for the other posts was under way.

Dr Brian Balmer from the regional office of the British Medical Association said Essex was a particularly affluent area and the national formula that set budgets did not really fit.

Residents also did not qualify for extra money that other more deprived area might get.

This meant that existing budgets were being squeezed.

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