BREAKING NEWS: NHS probes Crawley health services

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An investigation has been launched by the NHS into the authority which runs health services in Crawley.

The move follows NHS England placing the Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group into ‘special measures’ - and the resignation of its chief clinical officer.

The commissioning group - currently more than £5 million in the red - is responsible for paying for and monitoring health services in Crawley.

Dr Amit Bhargava resigned as its chief clinical officer last week at the same time as the group was put in special measures.

In a statement today, a spokesperson for NHS England South said: “In line with our assurance role to ensure good governance within CCGs, we have commissioned an independent investigation by Verita in relation to NHS Crawley CCG. The investigation is underway and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Verita describes itself as an independent consultancy for regulated organisations specialising in carrying out ‘objective investigations of complex and often sensitive issues in a thorough and progressive manner.’

Announcing its placement in special measures, Dr Laura Hill, acting clinical accountable officer at Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Crawley CCG is facing significant pressures, which have continued as the demand for health and care has increased and people live with more complex conditions for longer.

“A great deal of work is already underway within the CCG to improve our position, including our Financial Recovery Plan; a robust and ambitious strategy to address our financial situation.

“Being in special measures will bring with it some additional support from NHS England, who we will continue to work closely with on our future plans, particularly around our finances.

“This latest rating shows the need to transform local health and care services, to reflect the needs of our patients.

“The East Surrey and Sussex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership that we are involved with, along with our partners, will be a key part of that.”

Meanwhile, it was announced that Dr Bhargava had resigned from the group, of which he had been a member of its governing body since April 2013, in a statement on Monday.

The CCG said that Dr Bhargava would continue to practice as a GP with Southgate Medical Group in Crawley.

In his resignation letter, Dr Bhargava said: “The NHS faces big challenges, with the need for new partnerships and collaborations, and it is right that the leadership is also new and takes charge of its destiny to create a great future.

“I know we will continue to form a positive vision for health and care services for the people of Crawley - we have great talent, experience and ambition within our town.”

Interim group chairman Peter Nicolson, added: “Dr Bhargava has led the CCG and its predecessor organisations with distinction and has pioneered work that has achieved national recognition and success. He has been instrumental in championing ways of helping people live well with dementia; assisting those who suffer mental health crises and has done much to help the homeless and tackle the causes of social isolation.”