Health chiefs launch 'Big Conversation' to ask how NHS funding should be spent in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire

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Health chiefs are asking Peterborough and Cambridgeshire residents how they want to see NHS funding spent as part of 'The Big Conversation'.

The huge consultation has been launched with the body responsible for NHS spending in the county seeing its funding squeezed.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) currently runs a deficit of £75 million and has been criticised for cutting services including IVF. It has created The Big Conversation, it says, as "difficult decisions" will need to be made in the future, and it wants to understand what is most important to the local community.

The CCG has an annual budget of £1.3 billion to deliver healthcare services to 980,000 people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This includes funding for hospitals, GP services, pharmacies and mental health services.

However, the Peterborough Telegraph revealed 18 months ago that it would have an extra £30.3 million to spend if it had same rate of funding as the national average.

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Dr Gary Howsam, local GP and chair of the CCG, said “Whilst £1.3 billion may sound like a lot of money, it sadly isn’t enough to deliver all of the healthcare services that we would like. If our current budget was shared equally across our whole population it would amount to £1,125 to spend per person each year and we are currently operating at a deficit of £75 million, which means significant savings must be made. Which is why we need to make sure that money is spent in the best way possible.

“To help us to make decisions about the services and treatments we purchase in the future, we are asking our local community to share their views on what matters most to them and about some key areas with us. The responses to these questions will be used to create a set of principles that will inform our future plans, so it is really important everyone gets involved and has their say.”

The CCG will be holding a series of events in key locations across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, but people who are unable to make any can still have their say by completing the survey online at bit.ly/NHSBigConversation.