Funding gap sparks call for open debate

By Ian Dipple Friday 07 March 2014 Updated: 07/03 09:44

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CONTINUING to deliver services the way they are now will leave the county’s NHS facing a £300million funding gap in five years time.

The total is Worcestershire’s share of the national £30billion gap expected to grow by 2020/21 if health bosses just do nothing.

NHS chief executive David Nicholson has called for an honest debate about the future shape of the NHS in order to meet rising demand, introduce new technology and meet the expectations of patients.

In Worcestershire health chiefs say in order to meet the new financial challenge they will need to work more closely together to transform the way care is delivered and do things differently. But they admit it is not yet clear how that will be achieved.

Simon Hairsnape, chief officer for Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, admitted filling the gap would be a challenge to both providers and commissioners particularly with the focus on improving out of hospital care and reducing reliance on care and residential homes.

“The way the provider financial challenge is delivered is usually through lower prices being set for the same levels of activity so around providers becoming more efficient, delivering the same for less money,” he told a meeting of Worcestershire’s Health and Well-Being Board.

The Better Care Fund will help drive the ongoing work to deliver change and from 2015/16 will see parts of existing health and social care budgets pooled together to provide at least £37.1million to join up care.

But Dr Carl Ellson, South Worcestershire CCG’s chief clinical officer, warned they needed to be cautious about what could be achieved.

“Since the Better Care Fund was raised several months ago we have constantly said it’s not new money.

“The Royal College of GPs has come out and said some of this money should be directed to primary care and we just need to be realistic about raising expectations we can’t deliver over the coming years.”

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