Local health leaders are today highlighting a potentially serious financial gap between the local annual NHS budget and the increasing cost of providing health and care services.
Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), in common with other parts of the UK, has a growing and ageing population which is causing a significant increase in demand for all types of local health and care services. This means that health budgets are being stretched further. By the end of 2016/17 the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had already made cost-efficiencies of £1.4m towards 2017/18 but still needs to make savings of £10.2m by the end of this financial year to avoid a deficit.
Tracey Cox, Chief Officer at BaNES CCG said : “A new approach is needed to tackle unprecedented financial challenges and we are working on plans to improve local health services whilst making sure they are more efficient and offer better value for money.
“Some aspects of our savings plan are challenging and will require difficult decisions, but we will be open and honest about the tough choices we face in order to live within our means.”
Following a period of public consultation, the CCG recently reviewed its prescribing policies for gluten-free foods for patients with coeliac disease and antihistamines and painkillers where they are used to treat short-term, minor ailments. Availability of these products is now limited to all but the most vulnerable groups in B&NES. GPs now also need to submit a funding application on the patient’s behalf for some treatments e.g. varicose veins and carpal tunnel surgery that are only available in specific circumstances. The CCG assesses these applications against its policies to ensure everyone is treated fairly.
Further plans underway to reduce expenditure include:
- Making sure the most cost-effective medicines are used to deliver the best outcomes for patients
- Making sure patients are in the best possible health before surgery to aid a speedy recovery and reduce the need for further hospital interventions
- Continuing to reducing expenditure in areas that are less clinically effective, provide insufficient health benefits and do not represent good value for money.
Dr Ian Orpen, local GP and Clinical Chair at Bath and North East Somerset CCG said: “It will take a concerted effort and collaboration with all our health and care partner organisations and GP members to deliver health services that are sustainable and fit for the future.
“Local people can also play their part by taking more responsibility for their own health and using NHS services wisely. For example, by only using the Emergency Department for urgent, life-threatening illnesses, managing common, minor illnesses yourself with the support of a local community pharmacist, cancelling any appointments you no longer need and staying as fit and as well as possible.”
There will be the opportunity to hear more about the CCG’s financial position and feedback on its plans at the annual general meeting taking place in Keynsham on 27 July. Register to attend by following the link at www.banesccg.nhs.uk, email email@example.com or call Stacey on 01225 831 440.