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CCGs propose raft of new rationing cuts to fill funding gap

Two CCGs in Hertfordshire are looking to ration a wide range of services in an effort to fill a funding gap of £550m by 2021.

NHS Herts Valleys and NHS East and North Hertfordshire CCGs are proposing to either reduce or scrap IVF treatment, while also requiring smokers or obese patients to quit or lose weight before being referred for non-urgent surgery.

The two CCGs are also proposing to stop funding for female sterilisation and vasectomies, except in exceptional circumstances, in a bid to save £265,600.

A third neighbouring area, NHS West Essex CCG, is also consulting on whether to reduce or cut IVF.

If all three CCGs decide to stop funding IVF treatments, they will make a combined saving of up to £2.2m annually.

Dr Hari Pathmanathan, a Hertfordshire GP and chair of NHS East and North Hertfordshire CCG, said the fertility treatment proposals ‘have the potential to make a significant difference to some patients’ lives’ but she added that the cuts ‘have already taken place in other areas and some are being considered nationally’.

Fertility Network UK found that five CCGs have stopped funding IVF completely, which GP leaders have said leaves patients in an ‘unacceptable postcode lottery’.

NHS Herts Valleys and NHS East and North Hertfordshire CCGs' proposals will also require people with a BMI over 30 to lose weight before non-urgent surgery, while smokers will be asked to have quit smoking for eight weeks before surgery. 

The proposals could affect nearly a quarter of Hertfordshire's population, as 22% of adults in the area are obese, while 15% smoke.

According to the CCG’s consultation document, there is a higher than usual risk when smokers or overweight patients are given an anaesthetic.

The document says: ‘These patients are much more likely to suffer serious breathing problems, get infections and have heart, kidney and lung complications.

‘It also takes them longer to recover and they have a higher risk of dying under anaesthetic.’

NHS Harrogate and Rural District and Vale of York CCGs announced the same proposal last year, which were both denounced by the Royal College of Surgeons.

Dr Nicolas Small, chair of NHS Herts Valleys CCG said more than 1,500 people have already participated in the consultation, which opened on 6 July.

He said: ‘Wherever possible we are looking to make savings that won’t affect patients - so we’re cutting administration costs within our organisations, making more efficient use of technology and buildings and making sure all health care is delivered efficiently.

‘But some of our proposed changes will have an impact on local services, and we are committed to listening and learning so that we can provide essential help and support to everyone who needs it.’ 

The CCGs’ consultation closes on 14 September.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Thin middle class voters get to feel good about the NHS. Fat poor inarticulate smokers suffer in pain.
    #ClassicNHS

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  • I took part in the "consultation". It wasn't a consultation by any stretch of the meaning of the word. It was basically we are going to do this. Making difficult decisions is fine but don't dress the process up as something it isn't.

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  • When are we going to have a serious debate about how the NHS is funded and what we expect from it. We can't allow it to continue like this and allow politicans to side-step the fact they are not properly funding the NHS.

    The CCG should be made to hold a clinic to explain their rationale to patients so I don't have to!

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  • Cobblers

    Anyone want to put forward a "Vote of no confidence" in those CCGs?

    Only way you can express your antipathy otherwise the bullsh1t they espouse by saying they consulted the GPs allows you to be tarnished.

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  • Illegal under the NHS constitution.

    The class action will cost more than doing the procedures.

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  • Thank god no CCGs/CQC up here, seems like a plan from NHSE to deflect blame for NHS underfunding on others. At least we can still blame the government!

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  • Azeem Majeed

    "The two CCGs are also proposing to stop funding for female sterilisation and vasectomies, except in exceptional circumstances, in a bid to save £265,600."

    So, to save £265,600 (a tiny fraction of the funding gap of £550m by 2021), the CCGs plan to cut two highly effective procedures that will reduce spending on contraception and unplanned pregnancies, as well as sparing women from the side-effects of alternative methods of contraception such as the OCP.

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  • When CCGs were formed, many of us were deemed cynics for stating the obvious..........they were NOT "putting power into the hands of GPs", they were a fall guy for future cuts.
    That so many of our colleagues lined up to join still astonishes me, but kudos to the Tories for having the audacity to palm off the blame for slashed budgets on to GPs. Genius.

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  • Lets face it CCGs are just another firewall for NHSE which is a firewall for the DoH and the government.We are the fools who will take the hit for this team.

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  • When will GP realise that we are being made scapegoat for failure of politicians to fund NHS properly? Why is it our job to explain to patient that so & so treatment is not available on NHS ? Let politician explain that because THEY have taken decision to maintain/ reduce funding for NHS.
    GP should realise that we have got very potent tool in our hand . Let's prescribe what we think is right. Refer every patient we feel need expert opinion. CCG budget/ deficit is not our concern. We are there to provide Best possible patient care. let CCG/Politician do the maths and explanation & find solutions as problem is created by them.

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