HEALTH chiefs in Swindon have been left with a £1.2 million bill – following a nationwide drugs shortage.

NHS commissioners across the country have been hit by so-called No Cheaper Stock Obtainable (NCSO) drugs.

Supply shortages have seen the price of common treatments, such as epilepsy drug Gabapentin and painkiller Tramadol rise.

Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) say they expect £300,000 from NHS England following the problems.

However, reports shared with Swindon CCG's governing body this month, finance managers said that the £1.2m bill caused by NCSO charges had hit spending cut plans.

Caroline Gregory, chief financial officer, said that they had seen a “slippage” in plans to save £8.6m.

An extra £1.6m had to be spent on prescribing, the cost of caring for those with serious healthcare needs came in £500,000 above plan, while “minimal progress” was made on hopes to save £750,000 from the budget set aside for mental health patients cared for at hospitals and other in-patient facilities.

Despite this, Ms Gregory said that targets had been met on cutting the cost of emergency care and planned operations – with the latter largely due to an NHS decision to cancel non-urgent operations during a strained Christmas period.

“Despite another challenging year, SCCG has robust reporting arrangements in place, which have enabled financial risks to be identified at early stages and shared, enabling actions to be developed promptly,” she said.

However, the report flagged a “sizeable financial challenge” facing health commissioners across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. In January, the Adver revealed that the area’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), which brings together CCG bosses, and NHS providers faced a £100 million income black hole.

Spending cuts would bring the gap down to £45m, accountable officer Nicki Millin told a meeting of the Swindon CCG’s governing body in January. But, describing a meeting held with NHS chiefs at the start of the year, she added: “We couldn’t describe to NHS England how that gap would be closed.”

The financial pressures facing the STP, which helps set health policies for the area, remain under NHS England’s microscope.

NHS England’s Rachel Pearce told the CCG this month that she wanted to see evidence the CCG had shown “transformational leadership” to address the STP’’s “financial issues”.

The CCG's Nicki Millin told the Adver yesterday:" NHS England has requested a plan to show how the financial gap will be closed, this is due by the end of April.  We are working closely with STP colleagues to understand how this gap may be closed."