Commissioners continue to prioritise patient safety in a difficult financial climate

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The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs have reaffirmed their commitment to deliver NHS services that are clinically and financially sustainable.

The pledge comes as NHS England and NHS Improvement publish their annual performance assessments for all CCGs.

The assessments rate the CCGs’ performance during 2019/20 as commissioning organisations and do not reflect the services patients receive or the commitment of staff.

Five of the CCGs in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have been rated as Inadequate, the same as last year. East Staffordshire CCG has been rated as Requires Improvement, which is a reflection of the financial position.

Reducing the financial deficit has been a priority for all the CCGs during 2019/20 and there have been improvements and increased collaboration across all health and care partners, however the CCGs continue to spend more money than they receive.

Marcus Warnes, the CCGs’ Accountable Officer said: “As NHS commissioners our principal aim is always to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. However, we cannot get away from the fact that as commissioners our task is to buy those services within our budgets. A great deal of our focus has to be on finance and making sure every pound spent is used to bring maximum benefit.  

“We are continuing to work with our providers to tackle the deficit and the adoption of the  Intelligent Fixed Payment System has received considerable recognition as a model to collectively manage risk and work towards the delivery of system wide clinical and financial sustainability.

“Our ratings also reflect the fact that we failed to persuade our member practices of the benefits of merger, resulting in conclusive vote not to merge. The national direction of travel is clear, with typically one CCG in each integrated care system and CCGs encouraged to come together into single statutory organisations. We are keen to take the time to engage with our Primary Care Networks (PCNs), wider membership and stakeholders to understand how we best deliver the national ambitions in a way that meets the needs of our local population. Our intention is to meet this national requirement by April 2022.

“These disappointing ratings should not detract from some very significant achievements on behalf of our patients, prior to the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the remarkable response of all within the health and care system since the onset in March.

“I want to thank all our staff and clinicians for their outstanding dedication and commitment to the communities that we serve. I am confident that we are improving care, within an unprecedented time for the NHS, but we always recognised that this would take several years before we can balance our financial deficit.”  

Significant achievements include:

  • The approval in January of a Decision Making Business Case that will lead to the transformation of community services in the north of the county and the development of Integrated Care Hubs from which Integrated Care Teams will deliver services.

  • The development of a new Community Rapid Intervention Service (CRIS) across Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire and Stafford, which has now also been successfully trailed in the rest of the county. CRIS offers a professional helpline for GPs, care homes, West Midlands Ambulance Service, community teams and domiciliary care teams to refer patients for care within their own home, with specially-trained advanced nurse practitioners seeing patients within two hours of referral.

  • The commissioning of a new IAPT service that delivers a range of evidence-based psychological therapies for people aged over 16 with common problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.

  • All GP practices in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are now members of PCNs. This combined model will mean the practice groups are large enough to be resilient, through shared workforce and other practice functions, but remain small enough to continue the personalised care delivered by general practice which is so cherished by patients.