Protests in Peterborough as health body confirms cuts to services

Protesters outside the meeting
Protesters outside the meeting
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There were protests in Peterborough yesterday in opposition to proposed cuts to health services. Campaigners called on the Government to start funding Peterborough and Cambridgeshire properly, as its Clinical Commission Group (CCG) ended funding for a number of projects due to funding pressures.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG - which commissions health services in the county - has said it is the third lowest funded CCG in the country, with others receiving up to £350 per person more.

It is seeking to make £33 million of savings this financial year which will leave it with a planned deficit of £75 million.

A number of savings totalling approximately £500,000 were agreed yesterday at its governing body meeting at the Allia Future Business Centre, which is based at Peterborough United’s stadium in London Road.

Jo Rust, regional organiser for UNISON, one of the protesters outside the meeting, said a lot of the cuts were going “beneath the radar” as they were not affecting hospital trusts directly.

She said: “We are here to lobby for greater funding for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG. We are really concerned that the funding received is inherently unfair, and the lack of fair funding is putting the CCG in the position of having to make drastic cuts to services that vulnerable and elderly people need and use.

“We want to make it clear that while we understand the difficult position the CCG is in, we would prefer it if no cuts were made, and what’s vitally important is central government takes notice of this and funds this CCG fairly.”

One of the decisions made was to renegotiate the JET (Joint Emergency Team) instead of to cut it completely, as had previously been proposed, before the decision was delayed.

The JET is an urgent two or four-hour response service which supports people over the age of 65 or those with long-term conditions in their own home when they become very unwell and need urgent care, but do not need to go to hospital.

The team is 45 strong and receives about 10,000 patient contacts a year, for instance when a person has suffered a fall or reduced mobility or a current illness has worsened.

The service, which costs £3.6 million a year, is run by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), the provider of community health services for older people and those with long-term conditions, as well as mental health services.

Ahead of the meeting CPFT chief executive Tracy Dowling said she was “deeply concerned for the safety of patients in the community” if the JET was decommissioned, and that the service has “proved to be highly innovative and effective in delivering urgent care to patients in their own home and preventing unnecessary admissions to already under-pressure acute hospitals”.

The CCG had argued that the JET was not “cost effective” as it had not been proven to prevent admissions to frontline health services.

Dr Gary Howsam, CCG clinical chair, said: “This was just the first stage in a process, and it is a process I’m now very confident that we’ve got our provider colleagues on board with, so we will be able to work across the system, most importantly with clinicians and patients to make decisions going forward about the services that we will be looking to eiher renegotiate or redesign heading forward to allow us to meet that £33 million total savings plan.”

The CCG will decide at its next governing body meeting in August whether to reinstate IVF provision.

Decisions agreed (and the CCG’s reasoning behind it)

GROUP ONE - CEASE FUNDING (COMPLETELY OR PARTIALLY)

1) Dial a Ride - only Cambridge City which currently costs £6.500. It is not a service needed as it is already covered by the East of England Ambulance Service

2) Carers Trust - the CCG wants to re-negotiate with the service deliverers to cover those high need patients who will still get the service

3) Health & Wellbeing Network -  work with a number of providers to find a better solution and CCG will fund part of that. Any commissioning will be worked out with the local authorities

4) The Stroke Association - only covers the Cambridge area around Addenbrooke’s. It is a non-clinical charity which has two people who visit people several weeks after a stroke in their own homes

GROUP TWO - CONTRACTS DECOMMISSIONED

1) Dermatology service - it is currently only serving nine GPs in Cambridge. It is a very small bespoke service which is already covered by hospitals, and therefore not good value for money.

GROUP THREE - RENEGOTIATION

1) In Health Endoscopy - It’s not getting the best utilisation of service for the money it costs. A three month consultation process to renegotiate

2) Specsavers Direct Access to Audiology - the CCG feels more focused marketing of those people who actually need a hearing test would be better

3) Joint Emergency Team (JET) - the service is not fully utilised (currently only 70 per cent). The CCG believes it could get better utilisation of  the service if renegotiated

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