Financial risk could lead to health cuts

By Ian Dipple Friday 04 April 2014 Updated: 04/04 09:31

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HEALTH services across Redditch may have to be cut as doctors warn they are facing an almost impossible financial situation.

Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group - responsible for buying in healthcare services across the two towns - needs to make almost £7million of efficiency, or QIPP, savings over the next 12 months to meet strict financial targets set by NHS England.

A series of schemes are being put into place to save cash but health chiefs admit not all the required savings may be made, more than £2million of which are still yet to be identified. There is also a risk of overspending on their contract for acute hospital services by some £2.5million and £700,000 on the medicines budget which would leave the CCG facing a financial black hole of £4.93million it would be unable to fill.

While efforts are being made to find another CCG to share the financial risk, health chiefs admit they may simply have to stop some services it provides now and are exploring their options.

It comes at a time when overall funding for the NHS is increasing by just 0.1 per cent above inflation and the CCG is being told it is actually receiving £1.7million more than it should, despite rising demand.

Bromsgrove GP Dr David Law criticised the Government for raising expectations of the NHS while at the same time 'keeping a throttlehold on the financial envelope.'

"When we say there's a QIPP challenge of £6.95million this translates into serious pressure on GPs at the front door doing our best for our patients and that pressure has been increasing over the last few years. Our clinical colleagues are increasingly finding this is a pressure we are struggling to bear," he told a governing body meeting.

"This is just about an impossible challenge this year and just about as an impossible challenge every other year as well."

But Simon Hairsnape, the CCG's chief officer, said the financial task ahead of them was achievable. He admitted it would require delivering services in different ways so they were more efficient and effective and in some cases with a different provider.

He added the NHS was not yet the most efficient it could be and there was between £10million and £15million they spent in acute hospitals which could be used more effectively in the community.

"Ultimately we may need to take some hard decisions but I wouldn't want people to think cuts are our starting point," he said.

"What we won't do is ration healthcare in a postcode lottery way, what we may have to do in the future, and are right to do, is prioritise services to ensure the right patients, get the right treatment, in the appropriate way in response to their healthcare needs."

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