County Council hits back at Health Chiefs over funding cuts

Published on: Saturday, 1st December 2018

NHS claims that Derbyshire has been given an easy ride over health cuts were rejected by the leader of Derbyshire County Council who declared it an absolute cheek.

Councillor Barry Lewis said the comments made to the council’s health scrutiny committee by NHS England finance officer Paul Briddock hid a catalogue of financial mismanagement and “model of inefficiency”.

“It’s an absolute cheek to say we got off lightly,” said Councillor Lewis. “Many Clinical Commissioning Groups have failed to put their houses in order since day one and have been a model of inefficiency, promulgating the type of inefficiency that went before. Clearly no top-down impetus for them to do so either, judging by these comments.”

Councillor Lewis hit out at the NHS after Mr Briddock told a meeting of the council’s Improvement and Scrutiny Committee - Health - that the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were being given a large proportion – more than 10 per cent – of the total budget available to CCGs across the country to help balance their books.

This was more than their “fair share” of the money available, said Mr Briddock.

The Director of Finance NHS North Midlands was called to appear before the committee to answer questions about the savings plan put forward by the Derbyshire CCGs.

The Derbyshire CCGs – the people who commission health services for the county’s residents – have proposed cuts to local voluntary sector organisations as part of a plan to save £51m before the end of March.

If the CCGs make the savings, NHS England will “write off” another £44m of debt.  If they don’t, they would have to find £95m in savings.

The proposed cuts by the CCGs would have a serious impact on the county’s residents, flying in the face of the NHS-led plan for health and social care to work more closely together, said Councillor Lewis.

“I understand that the Derbyshire CCGs face a huge financial challenge but, unlike the council, the NHS has received significant government funding for its services over recent years,” he said. “These proposed cuts are very short-sighted as they could end up costing more in the long run.”

Asked by the chair of the committee Councillor David Taylor why NHS England wasn’t giving the CCGs longer to implement the financial recovery plan, Mr Briddock replied the NHS felt it was “achievable” within three years.

After listening to Mr Briddock’s replies, Councillor David Taylor said the committee reserved the right to send the matter to the Secretary of State for Health.

The committee said it would ask Dr Chris Clayton – the chief executive of the Derbyshire CCGs – to respond to Mr Briddock’s comments at its next meeting on January 21.

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