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The NHS body responsible for Cheshire’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is facing a deficit of £6.5 million, writes Ethan Davies.

NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) latest financial projections show higher expenditure in the organisation’s hospital discharge programme in the autumn means it is facing a black hole of £6.461 million by the end of March.

This is despite all of its cost needs being met from March to September last year.

Currently, the CCG is overseeing the roll-out of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines across the county.

Finance chiefs told the CCG’s governing body they are confident “every penny is spent effectively”.

Executive Director of Finance and Contracts, Lynda Risk, said: “People are being as robust as they can with cost control.

“Obviously, all the usual costs we incur go through the usual probity routes so we are still absolutely keeping our cost control within the system.

“I do not think cost control exercises are appropriate at this time, but we do need to make sure every penny is spent effectively for the patients of Cheshire.

“I think we do have those probity and resilience systems in place to make sure we are spending as effectively as we can.”

A report to the governing body’s meeting on January 21 shows the CCG “overspent by £7.350 million” in “the two-month period October and November 2020”.

It adds: “With an expected Hospital Discharge Programme (HDP) funding allocation of £8.669m yet to be received, [this gives] the CCG a surplus after the HDP funding of £1.319m year to date.

“The CCG submitted an additional plan for the period October 2020 to March 2021 to NHS England/Improvement on November 18, the proposed plan gives the CCG a deficit for the year of £10.059 million.

“The CCG has improved its position since the plan was submitted and is now predicting a deficit of £6.461 million for the period to the March 31, an improvement of £3.418 million — circa 0.3% of the CCG’s overall budget.

“This is after receipt of national monies to support the Hospital Discharge Programme.”

The CCG’s governing body will next meet on February 18.

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