Council scraps falls prevention service in bid to save £2.2m
The closure of a falls prevention service by a local authority poses a ‘significant risk’ to patient safety, health managers have warned.
Essex County Council is scrapping the service from June to save £2.2 million a year.
However. NHS North East Essex CCG warned that ‘this decision poses a significant risk to patient safety’.
This announcement comes after the Government last month announced plans to cut public health funding by £170m over two years, with local authorities losing out on £85m in 2018/19 and another £85m in 2019/20.
Patients in north Essex are currently referred to a service run by Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE), which costs £548,000 a year.
The CCG’s clinical quality lead Mel Crouch said: ‘The CCG believes that without this service, there would be limited provision for members of the public to obtain preventative advice or support in relation to falls.’
The CCG warned the cut ‘poses a financial risk to NEE CCG’, and it is working to ‘identify the gaps and impact of the decommissioning’, the governing board heard last week.
It is also evaluating services offered by other serviced providers in the area and working with ACE to see how the ‘safety risk can be mitigated’.
Essex County Council has agreed to fund the ‘strength and balance’ component as an interim measure.
A report prepared before the council’s decision last year said: ‘Falls prevention is a not a statutory duty for ECC and in other areas typically is CCG or joint funded.’
The council said the plan to scrap the service used by 3,000 people across five CCGs was ‘not made lightly but rather out of financial necessity’ and the provision varied across the county.
The council’s cabinet member for health and social care, John Spence, said the falls prevention programme ‘did not realise its potential in prevention’.
He proposed a less formal scheme, linked to a wide frailty agenda and making more use of the voluntary sector and communities.
He said last week: ‘This new way forward will continue to assist the county’s most vulnerable people through partnership working and focussing our resources on more effective services like the prevention of strokes, depression in older people and loneliness/isolation along with the encouragement of physical activity. All of which are contributing factors in falls.’
As part of public health cuts, Wolverhampton City Council said it is cutting counselling services for young people, to be replaced by school-based services that will help young people ‘build resilience’