The following is the text of my letter to Dr Ben Milton, Chair North Derbyshire CCG.
I have asked for an urgent meeting with the CCG to discuss the proposals and the underlying funding crisis and requirements of NHS England due to Special Measures.
I am writing to you again about proposed cuts to local services.
I understand that the Parkinsons nurses will be retained following
representations from myself and others, which I am very pleased to hear.
However I am appalled at the complete ending of the contract for Voluntary & Community Services Peaks & Dales (VCSPD) alongside other local charities who received notification last week of the CCG’s intention to cut all the grant funding VCSPD currently receives.
These cuts will impact severely on many of the services the charity delivers through a small core of paid staff and hundreds of volunteers who give their own time in High Peak, which benefit patients and help to prevent them requiring NHS care. I understand the services being cut include Befriending, Volunteer Transport Services, Home Support Emergency Sitting Service and the Volunteer Brokerage Service.
Cuts of this extent to the core work of the charity will impact on its overall sustainability and risk the hugely valuable network of volunteers, who have been built up over many years and whose relationships with patients are so important to them.
These services directly contribute towards reducing hospital admissions and facilitating earlier and safer hospital discharges.
They fly in the face of the principles of ‘Better Care, Closer to Home’, of a preventative healthcare strategy t improve quality of life and reduce NHS costs, and a recognition of the value of the voluntary sector in helping achieve this.
These services are crucially important for many older and vulnerable people in High Peak who rely on volunteer services to help get them to hospital appointments, or to provide support and friendship when no-one else can.
As with the proposed cuts to Parkinsons nurses, these cuts seem to be a short sighted solution to an immediate funding crisis.
However, the loss of preventative support services will create increased demand on NHS and social care services and cost more in the long term.
By threatening the valuable resource of Volunteer Networks, it also threatens the huge amount of goodwill that is given by volunteers and means that it will be much harder to rebuild this resource, which is so effective at helping patients, and cost effective for the NHS.
These cuts will surely end up costing the NHS more very soon, and will also affect the quality of life and valuable relationships that have been built up by volunteers with patients who are mostly elderly, and often vulnerable and isolated.
I realise that such decisions cannot have been taken lightly, but I urge the Commissioning Body to look again at the huge impact of these cuts, both on patients and on the volunteer network.
I am requesting an urgent meeting with the CCG to discuss these proposals and the underlying funding crisis and requirements of NHS England due to Special Measures.
With additional funding promised to the NHS by 2020, I would hope that both the Department of Health and CCGs will be keen to ensure that services with long-term benefits are able to continue running until that time and I would be pleased to work with the CCG and NHS England and to make representations to ministers to try to ensure that North Derbyshire can continue valuable services such as this.
Ruth George MP
Member of Parliament for High Peak