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#GPnews: Over half of CCGs are cutting mental health budgets

16:33 Over half of CCGs are cutting mental health budgets rather than increasing them, a Labour Party FOI request has revealed.

The Mirror reports that out of 128 CCGs which responded, 73 (57%) will reduce their spending on mental health services this financial year.

Labour’s shadow minister for mental health, Luciana Berger, said: ‘Time and time again ministers have promised that mental health spending would increase.

‘Yet for the third year in a row this has not happened, with a majority of local areas planning to spend less of their budget on mental health.’

15:48 Rationing of fertility treatment is on the increase in England, with just one in six trusts offering the NICE-recommended three cycles of IVF.

Campaigners are saying cutting IVF has become a ‘soft option’ for cutting costs among hospital trusts, reports the Daily Mail.

It says that already, three trusts ban the treatment entirely and another two may follow later in the year.

Sarah Norcross, co-chairwoman of Fertility Fairness said: ‘IVF does seem to be one of the first things that clinical commissioning groups consider. It seems to be a soft option for them to take – to reduce the number of cycles.

‘The NHS treats many, many conditions which are not life-saving and IVF is one of those. It’s a proven cost and clinically effective treatment and it’s been recognised as that twice by NICE now.’

Labour’s shadow health secretary Diane Abbott said: ‘The variation in availability of IVF treatment in different parts of the country will cause enormous distress to many couples looking to have children.

‘It shows the postcode lottery throughout the NHS combined with cuts to services.’

13:45 Women with breast cancer are being denied a drug which can stop their cancer from spreading to the bone, because of a disagreement over which NHS body should fund it.

Bisphosphonates, typically used to treat osteoporosis, can strengthen the bone and prevent cancer spreading and cost just 43p a day per patient, reports the Independent.

But three quarters of cancer oncologists, surveyed by charity Breast Cancer Now, say the cannot prescribe the drug because there is ‘confusion’ over which NHS bodies should cover the cost.

The charity estimates that in the UK, 27,000 women with breast cancer are being denied the treatment as a result.

11:30 Tens of thousands of operations may have been cancelled in English hospitals without ever being recorded in official statistics, a BBC investigation has revealed.

NHS England only records operations as cancelled when this happens on the day – with cancellations recently reaching record highs – but the investigation revealed that in actual fact, there were many more cancellations.

Half of the trusts in England responded to an FOI request about how many operations were cancelled one to three days before surgery, uncovering 41,474 cancellations compared to the official figure of 33,400 for those trusts.

The main reasons were cited as lack of bed space or staff shortages, amid ongoing pressure on NHS resources.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Our national data collection rightly requires trusts to focus on monitoring the number of last-minute cancellations, as this is where the most distress is caused for patients.’

It comes as Pulse reported that CCGs in one area of England are giving GPs a ‘gentle reminder’ to ask patients to consider getting their treatment privately if they have insurance.

NHS Mid Essex CCG has seen a 6% increase in referrals to private healthcare since it wrote to practices asking them to discuss with patients how they can use private insurance.

09:35 Former Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley has suggested the NHS should receive an annual £5bn ‘Brexit bonus’.

The call comes as leaders of the campaign for Britain to leave the EU have since backed down on promises to spend £350m a week worth of EU contributions on the NHS instead.

But Mr Lansley said the people of the UK had a right to expect more funding for the NHS, because both the remain and leave sides of the Brexit debate had used the future of the NHS as an argument within their campaigns, reports the BBC.

He said: ‘[F]or political reasons, both campaigns told the public that whatever was going to happen in the future, there would be more money for the NHS.

‘So the public have a right to expect it. They have a right to expect a Brexit bonus for the NHS.’

He added: ‘It frankly should be no less than £5bn a year.’

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