Last month, the Governing Body of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group agreed, ‘We should consider some areas we have previously viewed as “unpalatable” if we are to deal effectively with our financial problems’[i].
The realities of this are now becoming clear. On Wednesday 10th August, Governing Body members will be asked to agree cuts proposals that will harm the most vulnerable people in our society.
The cuts[ii] include withdrawal of funding for children with cerebral palsy to attend the Movement Centre, a centre of excellence based at Oswestry’s Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital. A ‘Home from Hospital’ service, offering practical support to frail elderly people following hospital discharge, is to end. The ‘CHAS’ scheme, offering pro-active case management and care to the frail care home residents most at risk of hospital admission, is to end. Funding will be withdrawn from Oak House, an establishment offering health assessment and intervention to people with profound and multiple disabilities and sensory impairments. People with mental health problems will be particularly hard-hit, with the closure of Enable, a best practice employment support scheme to help them into work. Ludlow’s Path House, a crisis centre for people with mental health problems, will close. Counselling based in GP surgeries is to end. A national target for the NHS is to value mental health equally with physical health – but it is hard to see how these cuts are consistent with that principle.
The cuts will also affect ‘Integrated Community Services’ (ICS), the flagship service supporting people following discharge from hospital. This is currently a joint project between Shropshire Community NHS Trust and Shropshire Council, led by the Community Trust. The project is to be removed from the Community Trust and given to another (unknown) provider. This could have huge implications for the viability of the Community Trust – and could therefore threaten the future provision of other community services. Shropshire Community Trust provides many essential but unglamorous services, including district nursing, physiotherapy, podiatry, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
Shropshire CCG entered the 2016/17 financial year planning in-year cuts of £12.6m; it is now making an additional £3.6m cuts[iii] in an attempt to achieve a control total imposed by NHS England. This is in the context of an overall £147.5m annual recurrent cuts by 2020/21, outlined in the ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin[iv] (now deemed secret by NHS England and removed from the CCG’s website).
Gill George, Chair of the Shropshire Defend Our NHS campaign, said ‘These are awful cuts that will hit the most vulnerable people in our society the hardest. The impact of these cuts will be devastating for people with mental health problems, frail older people, and adults and children with severe disabilities. We can’t go on blaming ‘bad management’ in Shropshire when we’re on the third CCG boss who hasn’t controlled the deficit. The NHS is sliding into chaos because it is catastrophically under-funded. Local MP Philip Dunne now has Ministerial responsibility for Health. We urgently need him to try and sort out decent funding for our NHS’.
Press Release 09/08/2016
[i] Paper 8.1 introduction. Governing Body 13th July 2016
[ii] Paper 8.4. Governing Body 10th August 2016
[iii] Paper 7.1 Governing Body 10th August 2016
[iv] The STP is attached. It was previously in online papers for 13th July meeting but has now been removed
Governing Body papers can be downloaded from the CCG website http://www.shropshireccg.nhs.uk/governing-board-meetings-2016