A package of measures to put the local NHS on a more sustainable footing was agreed at a meeting of NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG’s Board yesterday (Thursday 24 November).
The board’s decisions followed a nine week public consultation in which the CCG actively sought and listened to the views of local people and stakeholders on a range of proposed changes to the local Service Restriction Policy (SRP) and Intermediate Care Services.
The CCG proposed the measures to deal with some of the challenges being faced by the local NHS, under pressure from rapid population growth and the changing health and care needs of the local population. With a potential deficit of £14million this year, the CCG must take action to deal with ongoing financial pressures.
The changes agreed to the local Service Restriction Policy mean stopping, or imposing tighter restrictions on a number of treatments and procedures that are considered to have limited clinical value; where alternative options are readily available; or where the benefits are limited to very small numbers of people. These changes will have an impact on access to cosmetic surgery, specialist fertility services (including IVF), gluten-free foods on NHS prescription, e-cigarettes, certain pain injections A number of other procedures will be subject to new clinical critera.
Dr Arv Guniyagodage, chair of NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: “As local GPs, the CCG’s board members are keenly aware that many of the decisions we have taken today will have an impact on local patients. The CCG has made substantial savings in areas which don’t directly impact on patient care, such as in procurement and contracts with service providers, but the scale of our financial challenge has meant that we have needed to look more widely for savings. We really have had no choice but to take some tough decisions to get the local NHS back onto a more secure and sustainable footing, live within our means and ensure that we can maintain the services that are most needed.”
Over the course of the public consultation the CCG actively reached out to local people to explain the current challenges being faced by the local NHS and seek people’s views on the proposals for change.
Alison Reeve, lay member of the CCG’s board with responsibility for patient and public involvement, said: “The CCG was very pleased by the response to our consultation. With more than 850 survey responses, lots of people attending the eight public meetings we held, and conversations we have had with people outside stations and supermarkets, we have a good understanding of what local people think and feel about the proposals we put to them.
“We know that some of the decisions we have had to make will be unpopular, but I want to assure local people that we have listened to them. We may not have been able to change every proposal, but being able to gain further understanding into the impact of some of the proposals has allowed us to make changes to some of them, and put in place measures to reduce the impact of some others. Unfortunately, in order to protect essential services, we have had to make difficult choices about where to make savings.”
In addition to the changes to the Service Restriction Policy, the CCG also agreed some changes to the delivery of intermediate care services within Basildon and Brentwood. An audit of intermediate care beds in 2015 found that as many as 40% of patients in a bed may well have been better off being cared for at home, and the CCG’s conversations with its communities show that local people are generally supportive of plans to increase investment in community services to care for more people in their own homes.
Dr Guniyagodage said, “One of the key aims of the CCG’s Fit for the Future Programme is to bring more services out of hospitals and closer to home. By reducing a number of community hospital beds but increasing investment into services provided in people’s homes, we are able to provide these essential services to more people in a way which maintains and supports an individual’s wellbeing and independence while also ensuring that there are enough beds still available for those who need them. This is good news for local people and is the way forward to ensure that quality health services are able to meet the needs of local people now and in the future.”
Detailed information on the decisions the board made on changes to the local Service Restriction Policy and intermediate care services can be found here
Date: 25 November 2016