PRESS RELEASE: Joint Statement from Healthwatch North Yorkshire and Healthwatch York
Joint Statement from Healthwatch North Yorkshire and Healthwatch York.
Healthwatch in North Yorkshire and York urge NHS national bodies to put patient safety before money
The Capped Expenditure Programme is a new development from NHS England and NHS Improvement, the bodies that oversee our Clinical Commissioning Groups and Hospitals respectively. As reported in York Press on 17 May, NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Scarborough & Ryedale CCG, and York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been placed under a Capped Expenditure Programme, one of 14 local areas facing this restrictive financial regime.
Under the rules of the programme, these three local organisations are instructed to work together to identify ways to make significant cost reductions within the next nine months. It has been reported that local NHS leaders are being asked to “think the unthinkable”[i], and to confront “difficult choices”.[ii]
As local Healthwatch we do not accept the argument that this area is spending the resources of other areas through its failure to stay within allocated funding. We believe there has been a consistent failure to address the serious historic under-funding this area receives which produces undue pressure on services locally.
Our funding formula takes no account of rurality, and has not been adjusted to deal with the introduction of payment by results. Calculations have shown that on average for every £1 of funding received by commissioners in the NHS this area receives only 89p. Yet a visit to A&E in York attracts the same payment as a visit to A&E in Hull.
Healthwatch recognises the financial challenges the NHS faces in the next five years and the pressure on the wider health and social care system.
Our role requires us to work in positive partnerships with local health and social care organisations, both those who provide services, and those who buy them, to help these organisations make sure their plans to deal with these challenges have what matters to people right at their hearts.
We listen to our communities, hear their concerns about services, and we are committed to making sure that these views are properly represented and listened to. We urge those using services, who can see where efficiencies can be made, to share their ideas with us.
But our role also demands that we make it clear to our communities what these plans may mean. Current proposals would mean that if NHS England and NHS Improvement agree we could see:
- Up to 30% reduction in planned care, for example reducing spend on orthopaedics (such as knee and hip operations) leading to longer waiting lists
- Ward closures in our hospitals
- Closing minor injuries units
- Restricting patient choice
- Postponing NHS constitution targets (for example, 18 week waits for consultant appointments, four hour waits in A&EThe consequences would be significant. The reduction in planned care could mean one in three patients not getting the operation they need. People may have to live with pain for longer. The knock-on effects of supporting these individuals to cope would be serious for our wider care workforce. Already overstretched GPs would be left with limited options to meet the health needs of their patients. It is already challenging to recruit enough staff to meet local health and care needs. These proposals would make it increasingly difficult to recruit new graduates to join an area where treatment options are cut to the bone. Unchecked, North Yorkshire and York could become a demonstration of what a postcode lottery in health looks like.
If this happens, decision-making could be taken out of the hands of our local NHS leaders. NHS England and NHS Improvement would be given the power to veto or approve plans, whilst being removed from the realities of life for our communities. We are concerned that these plans could be forced through without proper engagement, or even consultation.
We want to reassure people that none of these proposals have been put into practice yet. But we urge NHS England and NHS Improvement to draw back from putting money above the safety of local residents. We ask that they put the health needs of our local community over balancing finances. We call for our area to receive its fair share of NHS funding, and recognition that our poor financial position is the result of an historic failure to address the changes in NHS funding formulas and the needs of rural populations. Other areas, already receiving more funding per head of population, have been prioritised for investment, placing our communities at a double disadvantage.
We also ask members of all three governing bodies to consider whether their positions remain tenable, if they are expected solely to rubber stamp NHS England and NHS Improvement decisions.
Most important of all though, we urge our communities to speak up. We want to hear what your concerns are at this time, and how you feel these challenges can be met. Get in touch with us direct, or take part in discussions across this area, to make sure your voice is heard.We are working with NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group to hold the following engagement events over the coming months. They have encouraged us to share these, so we can all begin regular open conversations about the challenges ahead.Tuesday 11 July 2017 - Community House, Portholme Street, Selby from 5.30 to 7.30pm
Monday 24 July 2017 - George Hudson Room, West Offices, York from 6.30 to 8.30pm
Wednesday 26 July 2017 - Folk Hall, New Earswick, York from 1.30 to 3.30pm
Thursday 3 August 2017 – Main Hall, Priory Street Centre, York, from 2 to 4pm – Healthwatch York special assembly – with Vale of York CCG
Monday 7 August 2017 - Selby Market, Selby from 10am to 2pm
Tuesday 22 August 2017 - Pocklington Market, Pocklington from 10am to 2pm
For further information and/or comment please contact:
Nigel Ayre, Manager, Healthwatch North Yorkshire: 01904 683802, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Siân Balsom, Manager, Healthwatch York: 01904 621133, email email@example.com
About Healthwatch and our role in the community
Local Healthwatch organisations work to help people get the best out of their local health and social care services. Whether it's improving them today or helping to shape them for tomorrow, Healthwatch is all about local voices being able to influence the delivery and design of local services. Not just people who use them now, but anyone who might need to in the future.
Anyone interested in finding out more and/or getting involved can contact their local Healthwatch via the details below:
The 14 Capped Expenditure Areas:
Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Cheshire (Eastern, Vale Royal and South)
North Central London
North West London
South East London
Surrey and Sussex
Vale of York and Scarborough & Ryedale