Two weeks ago we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the NHS, and the government promised additional funding in two years’ time.
The sad fact is that by 2020 North Derbyshire’s healthcare will be in a far worse position than now.
According to their recent annual report for 2017/18, North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were supposed to have made cuts of £26.3m in the last financial year – 6% of their total budget.
Hence the closure of Spencer Ward and refusal to look at alternative solutions proposed.
Yet even with that closure being brought forward, they say that only £9.3m savings were made last year, leaving far higher targets for cuts in this current year.
Recent proposals to drastically cut the funding for community and voluntary services may help to meet short-term targets to reduce spending, but they will have a long-term impact on the health and well-being of many people who rely on their services.
Cuts to the home support service for emergency respite care at home will lead to more older people needing to go into a care home or hospital, leading to expensive patient transfers, and disruption their lives.
Without organisation for the excellent volunteer transport services, more expensive alternatives have to be found.
And cuts to the befriending service that teams up volunteers with people who are lonely and isolated will mean more people left on their own, although loneliness has been shown to have just as detrimental an impact on someone’s health as heavy smoking.
In High Peak we are fortunate to have hundreds of volunteers who give their own time to help others, building friendships and knowing they are providing valuable support. At a time when families often live far apart, their services are more important than ever.
Organising our volunteers to meet the diverse needs of patients across High Peak is a huge task, and our Community and Voluntary Services (CVS) organisations do a tremendous job with a small core of funded staff, without whom the services cannot operate.
In proposing cuts to our voluntary organisations, North Derbyshire health commissioners do not seem to appreciate the huge value for comparatively low cost that is derived.
Nor that these organisations have spent decades building up their expertise and their volunteers. Once they are ‘decommissioned’ it will not be possible for them to spring back again quickly once there’s money in the pot again.
I have called on the Secretary of State for Health to support North Derbyshire in carrying over some of the overspend until 2020 when further finance has been promised, to enable them to continue without cutting services so drastically. I hope he will listen.