AN INCREASE in the number of people arriving at the county’s accident and emergency departments, added to the costs of a new drug to treat an eye condition, have led to an overspend in Wiltshire’s health budget.

New figures for the period up to the end of October show that the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – operating in shadow form alongside NHS Wiltshire until the latter is abolished next April – has an overspend of £1.89million.

A board meeting of NHS Wiltshire on Wednesday last week was told budgets for accident and emergency activity at the Great Western Hospital (GWH) in Swindon, the Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath and Salisbury District Hospital were all overspent, due to a rise in the numbers of patients coming in for treatment.

The overspending amounts to £106,000 at GWH, £128,000 at RUH and a forecast of £250,000 above last year at the Salisbury hospital.

Additionally, since the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved the use of the drug Lucentis to treat macular degeneration of the eye, there has been an overspend of £252,000 at the RUH.

Eye treatment activity at Salisbury has also been at a much higher volume than originally forecast.

The out-of-hours GP service is also overspent, due to the CCG paying £27,000 towards covering the additional cost of this year’s extra bank holiday, which marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in early June.

NHS Wiltshire’s board was told that a new drug price reduction may help drive down the cost of prescribing Lucentis for patients.

Debbie Fielding, the designate accountable officer at Wiltshire CCG, said the CCG had met hospital managers as part of a long-term project to provide more services in the community.

Despite the overspending in the county’s health budget, Dominic Tkaczyk, the interim director of finance at NHS Wiltshire, said the organisation was confident of finishing the financial year with a surplus of £2 million.