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CCG to ration range of services in cost-cutting scheme

A CCG is set to restrict services including vasectomy, female sterilisation and spinal physiotherapy, in a bid to save £1m.

NHS North East Essex CCG today announced the plans, which will also see restrictions on the prescription of gluten-free products and threshold conditions on the basis of smoking and weight for some patients before procedures begin. 

It said that the move follows a year-long programme of discussions with local people and communities across the district about self-care, as well as discussions with local elected clinical members at the CCG.

The announcement follows a decision by NHS Basildon & Brentwood CCG, also in Essex, to restrict the number of patients GPs can refer for vasectomy.

A statement from NHS North East Essex CCG said: ‘The board gave immediate approval to restrict gluten-free food products, as well as vasectomy and spinal physiotherapy services. 

‘It also agreed in principle for the CCG to restrict female sterilisation and apply threshold conditions on the basis of smoking and weight for some patients before elective procedures begin.’ 

CCG chair Dr Gary Sweeney said that although savings of £35m had been made, this was ‘no longer enough’ and that hard choices had to be made. 

He added: ‘We now have to look at restricting access to some services where evidence suggests that the overall benefits to our population are small. We have no choice other than to stay within budget, and if we do not implement these decisions then we would have to select other services to restrict.’

The CCG’s acting chief officer, Samantha Hepplewhite, said: ‘If the CCG’s position changes in the future, we will reconsider or adapt the implementation of these changes.

‘We believe that by restricting the services in the way we intend to, we will save around £1m this year. This is against a total of £22m for 2015/16.’