WIRRAL'S health bodies are in £14million of debt and must eliminate this within three years, according to the commissioning group's chief officer.

To meet the mandatory targets in his five-year plan, Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chief officer Simon Banks must turn this deficit into a £1m surplus by 2022.

Speaking at a meeting at Wallasey Town Hall, Mr Banks said: "At the moment our risk adjustment forecast for the year end is a £14m deficit.

"That in itself will mean we've had to make savings of £30m in year. So that's a significant ask."

Mr Banks also expressed frustration that his group are held to one-year targets, despite being told to produce a five-year plan.

Referencing Franz Kafka, the German author who fused the real and the fantastical in his writing, Mr Banks said: "We're in a slightly Kafkaesque paradox, where we are given these [one-year] targets by the regulatory bodies who at the same time have been asking us to do five-year plans.

"We've produced a five-year plan which says we can deliver a £14m deficit this year, return to balance in 2020/21 and surplus [by] 2021/22.

"[That] had kind of been accepted, but then we're being held to account for delivering far more than that in [one] year."

However, Mr Banks considered this to be an improvement in the group’s financial position.

He said: "That [the plan to reach a surplus] is something we wouldn't have been in a position to produce even 18 months ago.

"So I think we're in a much stronger position."

Speaking to the LDRS after the meeting, Mr Banks said the cost pressures would be met through a combination of increased funding from central government and a transformation of current services.

A new project called Healthy Wirral is at the centre of this redesign of current provisions and seeks to bridge the divide between those who allocate NHS funds and those who carry out services.

Mr Banks said: "Healthy Wirral is the only vehicle through which we will achieve transformational change and financial balance."

Healthcare professionals at the meeting also discussed the £18m of capital funds allocated to develop an Urgent Treatment Centre at Arrowe Park Hospital last month.

While all those assembled agreed the investment was a step forward, Mr Banks made it clear that the new money was not a silver bullet and great care would need to be taken to ensure the service was not used unnecessarily.

Mr Banks said: "We need better self-care and better healthcare management of people themselves.

"When they get to hospital we need to make sure people get to the appropriate diagnosis clinician as soon as possible and wherever possible avoid admission to a hospital bed."