THE two bodies in charge of NHS purse strings in mid Cheshire say they are doing everything they can to balance the books.

At a governing body meeting on Thursday, Lynda Risk, chief finance officer at NHS South Cheshire and Vale Royal clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), told members that the two CCGs are forecasted to have a combined £5 million ‘underlying deficit’ for this financial year.

That means the two bodies are expected to spend £5 million more than they receive in 2018-19, excluding one-off payments that the CCGs could be due to receive.

Mrs Risk told the governing body that the forecast includes £1.3 million of ‘unmitigated risk’ – which includes the potential for added costs to cover issues such as critical care, mental health and care for patients with complex needs.

Asked how confident she was that the CCGs could manage that financial risk, Mrs Risk said: “I think the position is quite risky.

“I don’t think you can ever be certain. We’ve had something every year which has cropped up late in the day that we didn’t prepare for, we didn’t know about, and there is the risk around the acute trust as well.

“So I wouldn’t be totally confident, I would say, but I think we are doing everything that we can to get to the best position for the CCGs.”

Mrs Risk explained that the CCGs would balance their books for the year if they receive the full £4 million from the Commissioner Support Fund which they are expecting to – but that would not clear the underlying deficit, which doesn’t take one-off payments into account.