Local health chiefs have spoken about the challenge they are facing to find £14m of savings to balance their books this year.
NHS Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which contracts and pays for local NHS services, says the scale of the funding gap is ‘significant’ and it has come up with an action plan to find efficiencies.
It faces not being able to balance its books for the first time since the CCG was formed in 2013, when CCGs replaced primary care trusts.
A spokesman for the CCG said: “NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are in formal financial recovery.
“This is being closely monitored and assured by NHS England.
“The CCG has an efficiency target of £14m to balance its books in 18/19.
“The CCG cannot deliver its vision whilst spending more than they receive in funding, effectively spending tomorrow’s healthcare budget today.
“The scale of the financial challenge facing both the CCG and local health and social care economy is significant.
“In order to assure NHS England, an action plan has been developed by the CCG which identifies a number of actions which are required to be undertaken in order to address the deficit to pull the CCG back into financial balance.”
The CCG’s costs are understood to have increased by around 20% in the past year alone as demand for services rises, driven partly by people living longer.
Meanwhile, funding within the NHS is limited.
The CCG says it is comparing itself with other CCGs to see where it may be able to reduce costs.
At the same time it says it is committed to implementing a regional value-based commissioning policy which aims to end variation in access to NHS services by different CCGs, and also to reduce spending on medicines that are available over the counter.
The spokesman added: “Since its establishment in April 2013, NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG has successfully achieved financial balance year on year.
“The financial recovery plan (FRP) has been prepared to address these challenges and subsequent impact on the CCGs ability to deliver the agreed financial targets for 2018/19.
“The CCG remains committed to taking all possible actions to ensure delivery of the planned financial position in 2018/19.
“It is clear that we need to make some changes to deliver financial stability in the future and we are committed to working with local partners to manage pressures across the health economy to achieve this.”