York & North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire GP groups 'wipe out £8.5m PCT debt'

A group of GPs set up to manage the NHS budget in North Yorkshire say they have wiped out a debt of more than £8.5m in less than a year.

Four clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) replaced the North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust (PCT) after a government shake-up in March.

The PCT, set up in 2006, left an £8.5m deficit after struggling financially.

The Labour MP for York Central, Hugh Bayley, said less money was being spent on patient care.

The CCGs told BBC Radio York they had paid off the deficit and expected a £6m surplus for the current financial year.

Mr Bayley said: "The bottom line is if you move from deficit to surplus then you do that by spending less money.

"Less money on patients means less treatments for patients."

He said there was still concern over the availability of some treatments.

Prof Alan Maynard, chairman of the Vale of York CCG, said some revenue came from hospitals that had been fined by NHS England for failing to meet targets such as A&E waiting times.

Other savings came from reducing the number of follow-up appointments with outpatients.

He said: "The number of follow-ups for outpatients has been reduced and that has put considerable savings into the system of £2m to £3m."

Prof Maynard said the CCGs were also making savings by working with other health professionals and patients by holding public meetings.

"We're trying to do things better with everyone collaborating," he said. "Inevitably we may make some mistakes, but so far, so good."

Debbie Newton, chief operating and finance officer for the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, said some savings had been made by cutting admissions to hospital.

The group is working with Yorkshire Air Ambulance and GPs to assess patients before taking them to hospital.

Healthwatch York, an independent body which monitors patient care, welcomed the improved financial position but said there was still scope for further investment particularly in mental health services.

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