NHS austerity is 'coming to a crunch' as £10m needed to cover Harrogate health services

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The financial body which pays for health services in the Harrogate District has denied there are plans to cancel all non-essential surgeries despite its £12.8m deficit.

Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions all NHS services in the district, finished the last financial year with a £12.8million blackhole.

The governing body of the CCG will meet today (Thursday) to officially agree receipt of £10 million from the government in order to cover a planned overspend of £10m in this financial year.

But County Councillor, Geoff Webber, (Lib Dem), has raised concerns about what this could mean for the future of health care in the district.

He said: “If you have a budget that is already struggling when you have extra money, then what will happen next year when you don’t have that and you still have £12.8 million to find from your budget?”

In its financial report for the governing body meeting, the CCG admitted it is in talks with Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust to 'address issues, manage demand and put in place cost improvement and reduction plans' with regard to the Trust’s £94million fixed contract to deliver services this year.

In light of this, suggestions have been made that the CCG are considering cancelling all non-essential surgical procedures.

But the CCG claims there are no plans currently in place to do this.

Amanda Bloor, Chief Officer of Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Our priority is ensuring people who need healthcare in Harrogate and Rural District receive the best care possible and there are no plans in place to cancel any operations.”

She added: “It is true that we have a set budget allocated to us by the Secretary of State and we are responsible for ensuring sustainable, modern and accessible healthcare is available to our population from this funding allocation.

“To help achieve this we are working together with partners across the health and care landscape, including service users, to look at delivering healthcare in a new way, focusing on prevention and early intervention to help people remain well and out of hospital unless necessary.”

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Judith Rogerson, said she agreed with the comments made by Coun Webber.

She said: “We don’t know if it is going to happen but how are they going to save the money if they don’t cut anything?”

However Coun Webber added that he did not blame the CCG for its financial position.

He said: “The whole point of this is that they don’t have enough money to do what they are supposed to do.

“They haven’t been splurging money around, this isn’t their fault and it is not the hospital’s fault either, it’s just that the government simply aren’t giving the CCGs enough money.

“This is the result of systemic underfunding of the NHS, it is part of this austerity and it is coming to a crunch.”

Dr Ros Tolcher, Chief Executive of HDFT, said: “Providing high quality patient care to our local population, in a timely way, is our number one priority. Like all NHS trusts, we are finding it increasingly difficult to do this within the resources available.

“We continue to work in partnership with the CCG to ensure that together we use our resources to best effect.”