High Peak MP Ruth George fights health cuts to voluntary services

High Peak MP Ruth George has branded moves by Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to cut almost £100,000 a year from Peaks & Dales voluntary services as short sighted.

And she has written to the CCG’s Chief Executive and Governing Body urging them to re-think the proposals and to carry out the further consultation that were promised by Stephen Barclay MP as Health Minister.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s Derbyshire CCG meeting, Ruth said: “I am appalled that Derbyshire’s Clinical Commissioners are looking to go ahead with cutting almost all of the funding to High Peak’s amazing Community & Volunteer Services CVS.

“The short-termism of these cuts is wholly wrong and I urge the CCG members to think again.

“Cuts of almost £100,000 will wipe out our local services for Home from Hospital, Community Transport, befriending elderly and isolated people, and night sitting. There is no mention of alternative services.

“As I set out in Parliament in September, there is no better or more cost-effective service than our dedicated volunteers. Once these services are lost, they will take many years to build up again, even if the goodwill is there.

“I have heard first hand from their elderly clients how much they value the services offered, and from volunteers how rewarding they find it to make such a difference to vulnerable people who are often lonely and build a real bond with the volunteers who support them.

“Both the service users and the volunteers will be devastated at this news.  Our voluntary services have taken years to build up their organisation and their trained and trustworthy volunteers.  Once they have gone, these services cannot be replaced.

“When he responded to my debate in September, then Health Minister Stephen Barclay promised, a full consultation, saying, ‘It is important to be clear that before taking any final funding decisions on services through the voluntary and communities sector, that a further round of engagement and consultation with the local communities, local authorities, patients, GPs and other stakeholders will take place.’

“That promise has been broken. Instead I see from Thursday’s papers that the four-week rushed consultation over the summer is being relied on, with no input from local authorities, GPs and others that were promised.

“I will continue to fight this as it will cost the NHS and social care more when people can’t access these services. And patients will suffer, particularly the poorer, more isolated and vulnerable people.

Today I tackled the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, over the cuts forced on Derbyshire CCGs, which have to be made good within one financial year, forcing them to make short-term cuts instead of planning for long-term health improvements that the NHS is meant to be doing.  I was told that those are the rules imposed on NHS England by Government, so that will be my next port of call.”

Ruth is also urging residents to attend Thursday’s meeting of the health commissioners at 2.45pm at the Coney Green Business Centre in Clay Cross, to make their views known and to show how strongly local people feel.

Responding to Ruth’s debate in September, then Health Minister Stephen Barclay said: “On the voluntary sector, it is important to stress that decisions have not been taken and that a consultation process is under way. The CCGs will have those discussions with local stakeholders.”