NHS finances: Wiltshire's clinical commissioners are back in the black
Now for some good news on NHS finances: it was in October last year that Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group found it was slipping into the red and would not make the required end of year surplus of one per cent of its budget.
The CCG forecast that it would miss its target by £4.8million - and then might even lose its independence if it could not get back into the black.
The CCG has now announced it has achieved its £5.5million surplus for 2015-2016. This means they have started the 2016-2017 financial year in a positive position as they do not have to replace last year's feared shortfall out of this year's budget.
At a board meeting (May 24), the CCG's Chief Financial Officer, Simon Truelove, described this as "A great achievement". But how did they do it?
In general, he said, it was down to their detailed Financial Recovery Plan which NHS Engalnd had told them to draw up: "It did deliver the desired effect." And there were several key elements that helped them back from the red.
"We resolved some of the difficult disputes with Wiltshire Council and NHS England."
These included disputes over funds relating to the joint CCG/Wiltshire Council Better Care Plan and also the funding for care of learning disability patients who, after NHS treatment, become the responsibility of the Council. The dispute with NHS England concerned costs for a patient with continuing complex needs being treated outside the county.
Another major financial benefit came from "A significant improvement in prescribing costs". These at one point last year looked as though they would deliver a significant overspend to the budget. In part this came from national forecasting that had an impact on the CCG's budgeting - and later proved to be 'all over the place'.
But the improvement also reflected 'hard work by GPs' in lessening the impact of repeat prescriptions and moving to low cost generic drugs.
It was not all good news. Not all the CCG's savings planned at the start of the last financial year, came good. And this does impose a challenge for the current year.
"There were", Simon Truelove told the CCG's board, "a number of smaller sums that helped - some 'white rabbits' - enough for us to crawl our way over the finish line."