CCG abandons plan to suspend referrals to cut costs after public outcry

St Helens CCG has abandoned proposals to suspend non urgent referrals after a public outcry.

GP leaders slammed the plan by the Merseyside commissioners revealed earlier this week to stop GPs making referrals to secondary care for four months as a cost cutting measure.

Lay chairman Geoffrey Appleton said in a statement on Thursday that the CCG had withdrawn the proposal from a public consultation after considering the feedback it had received.

Commissioners had hoped the plan would save at least £2.5m in 2016/17 to support its financial recovery. The CCG faces a £12.5m funding gap over the next year and wants to save £12.5m this year and £17.5m next year.

St Helens was one of 36 CCGs rated inadequate by NHS England in a new ratings regime announced last month.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said on Tuesday the 'unacceptable' proposals highlighted the financial pressures facing the health service and its effect on patient care.

Mr Appleton said: ‘Since the consultation began we have been listening to and considering all the feedback we have received regarding our proposals. As a result of this we have taken the decision to withdraw it from the consultation. 

‘The financial challenges NHS St Helens CCG faces have not gone away and we will now be looking at other measures we can introduce to assist with the £12.5m funding gap. We will continue to work with our partners in the local health system to identify other opportunities where savings can be made.

'This will undoubtedly still involve some tough decisions about what is affordable but we will continue to consult with local people on our new proposals and listen to their views. I would encourage local people to continue to make their views heard about what is important to them around their local NHS.’

The CCG will continue its consultation on other cost-cutting proposals, including stopping prescriptions for over-the-counter medicines for short-term, self-limiting conditions and gluten free foods as well as restricting routine access to IVF treatment.

Photo: iStock

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