THE SECRETARY of state could impose decisions on Bury CCG if local health bosses cannot close a funding gap of £7.3 million.

Health bosses have outlined a range of measures to make the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) break even, but finance officers stressed there were no guarantees.

Earlier this year £5.4 million of savings were identified by cutting a range of services including removing certain drugs, reducing the IVF offering and cutting a minor eye clinic.

However, this week at the governing body meeting it was decided not to cut the eye clinic because it cost the CCG very little and probably created savings in other areas.

The issue of reducing the IVF offering was also set aside because it was felt a consultation or at least a period of public engagement would be needed.

Mike Woodhead the CCG's interim chief finance officer described the situation as a 'significant risk'.

He said: "As a result of that risk Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) required a financial improvement plan which they are going to monitor us against monthly.

"To show them how we’re going to get to zero."

He said the CCG was still looking at further options for savings, adding: "Remember these are going to be options that are going to be the least bad things to do. That have the least detrimental impact to patients.

"There’s no guarantee we can get to zero by the year end."

Chris Wild, lay member for audit, remuneration and conflicts of interest, said: "It’s important to convey an accurate message to GM it’s a very tight position. Everyone is aware the situation is difficult.

"Everyone is on board with the process to bridge the gap but that gap could crystallise at the year end."

Mr Woodhead added: "As soon as we get into territory of forecasting a deficit [the CCG's external auditors] are obligated to report us to the secretary of state. That can tie the CCG up for months in knots with patient decisions imposed on us."

The CCG is planning to break even at the end of the year but if it looks like it will not, its auditors are duty bound to refer the body to the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt MP.

This could lead to decisions being made on behalf of the CCG.