Ben Bradshaw

Working Hard for Exeter

Crisis Facing Devon NHS

The NHS in Devon has warned it might have to restrict certain treatments and operations and stop others completely because of the financial crisis it finds itself in.

The Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the new organisation set up to commission (buy) care on behalf of the public, is facing a £14.7 million deficit this year and the situation is only expected to get worse.

Among the measures it is considering are:

- Ending completely IVF treatment for couples finding it difficult to have a baby, in spite of the official national guidance from NICE (The National Institute for Clinical Excellence) that couples should be entitled to at least 3 cycles of IVF.

- Restricting cataract operations to just one eye and stopping some varicose veins treatment.

- Denying or delaying certain operations like hip and knee replacements with people who are morbidly obese.

- Denying or delaying certain operations and treatments to smokers.

- Closing down the very popular and successful NHS Walk-In-Centre in Sidwell Street. This has seen big annual increases in use every year since it opened by people who find it difficult to get to see their GP quickly or at a time that’s convenient to them.

This is all extremely worrying and anyone who has concerns about the proposals should make sure their voices are heard by emailing the CCG or writing to:

NHS Northern Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
Newcourt House
Old Rydon Lane
Exeter
Devon
EX2 7JU

While Devon CCG is not the only one in serious financial trouble, it has one of the worst deficits in the country. NHS England (the new body set up by this Government to oversee the NHS in England), along with the health regulators, sent in a task force earlier this year to examine Devon CCG’s finances. They were supposed to be trying to identify any areas where work could be done more efficiently and to see if there was an underlying underfunding problem affecting Devon because of things like our high number of very elderly residents.

All that seems to have happened is the CCG has been told it’s got to save money by cutting services. This is not good enough.

I have today written to the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, asking for an explanation. If Devon is not being underfunded and our local CCG is not doing anything wrong – this shows the seriousness of the crisis now affecting the NHS.

Mr Stevens himself warned in an important speech last week that the next Government would have to find an extra £8 billion to fill the NHS funding gap in the next Parliament. But that funding gap is there now and the public in Devon are suffering as a result.

Local NHS staff, who haven’t had a pay rise for years, do a fantastic job at providing care in increasingly difficult circumstances.

It would be nice if this Government now admitted publicly what it does privately – that its huge top down re-organisation of the NHS – which nobody voted for – has been a costly and catastrophic mistake.

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