Local health bosses have been ordered to give other NHS services in Cambridge and Peterborough a £5million bailout - and they do not know when it will be paid back.
Earlier this year it emerged the Cambridge and Peterborough Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) had a “significant” gap in its 2019/20 budget, with a deficit in the region of £192million.
And the clinical commissioning groups in Hertfordshire and West Essex - which are part of the Hertfordshire and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) - have been asked to contribute £5million.
Meanwhile a further four STPs in the East of England region have also been asked for £5million - giving a total of £25million.
Ann Radmore, regional director for NHS England and NHS Improvement – East of England says it’s part of a ‘joined-up’ approach.
“Every NHS organisation is expected to live within their means and the benefit of taking a joined-up regional approach is that we can tackle the issues together,” she said.
“NHS England and NHS Improvement in the East of England is committed to the NHS Long Term Plan aim that by 2023-24, no NHS organisation will end the year in financial deficit.”
Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed in June to hand over £5million, on behalf of the health commissioners across Hertfordshire and West Essex - on condition that the money would be returned next year (2020/21).
But at the latest meeting of the CCG board it emerged that the East of England NHS has NOT confirmed that the money will be repaid next year - which would leave health services locally to pick up the bill in the short term.
Instead it may take up to three years for the money to be paid back.
In a report to the Herts Valleys CCG board (September 26), chief executive officer Kathryn Magson said they had continued to seek assurances from NHS England - without success.
But she reassured board members that should the money not be returned the contribution would be split proportionately between Herts Valleys, North and East Hertfordshire and West Essex CCGs.
That would still mean up to £5milion less for health services commissioned by CCGs in Hertfordshire and West Essex next year (2020/21).
But the sum that would be lost to Herts Valleys has been calculated to be £2.036milion.
Ms Magson’s report states: “Since the last board the STP has been seeking assurance from the regulators regarding arrangements for the £5million allocation transfer to Cambridge and Peterborough system following the East of England regulatory request to all STP systems.
“In line with the CCG board agreement condition of this support, assurance that the money will be returned to HVCCG in 2020/2021 has not been received although governance oversight arrangements have been confirmed.
“HVCCG have confirmation from all other CCG partners in our STP that the contribution will be split proportionally between all three CCGs should the contribution not be repaid. The contribution for HVCCG in this position is £2.036million.”
At an earlier meeting of the board board, in June, members were told that when the Cambridge and Peterborough STP submitted its budget earlier this year, there was a “significant” gap.
These financial difficulties were said to be “complex” - ranging from ‘an allocation formula that does not reflect the area’s needs, the legacy of historical agreements with the large research ad teaching hospitals and potential inefficiencies in commissioning”.
Meanwhile a spokesperson for the Hertfordshire and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership said “full financial recognition” would be received within three years.
And should Herts Valleys CCG need its funding returned because of an urgent need, she said it would be supported.
“It has been agreed that all the STPs in the East of England region will each contribute £5million to help to bring the budget for the region back in line with expectations for the financial year 2019/20,” she said.