Talking after an All Party Parliamentary Group oral evidence session on primary care, Dr Howard Stoate, Bexley clinical cabinet chairman of NHS South East London, raised concerns that a local hospital trust ‘put leaflets in every child’s school bag’ to advertise its new walk-in paediatrics assessment unit, which had been commissioned by his CCG.
Dr Stoate, who is also a former Labour MP, said this was not part of the contract with the trust and warned that it could put strain on the CCG’s budget.
Dr Stoate said: ‘What’s happening is that it is driving up demand and cost to the point where it is becoming unaffordable for us.
‘This is a really good service, but it is expensive and if used inappropriately it could be unaffordable.’
Dr Stoate said the hospitals must work in partnership with the CCGs to ensure ‘what it provides is in line with what the CCG wants it to provide’.
He said: ‘It is doing something effectively on its own without having run it past the commissioners to make sure it fits with our intentions that that we can actually afford it.
‘There is a risk of straining our budget and that is obviously something we have got to guard against. We need some real partnership working between the hospital and the CCG to ensure they don’t overstretch it’.
It comes amid concerns that some CCGs will burst their commissioning budgets this financial year.
Dr Stoate said CCGs across London are ‘all struggling to make the commissioning budgets work for this year’.
He said: ‘We are all under pressure. We are certainly going to struggle to break even this year in Bexley, and others in London are in an even worse position. Some CCGs will burst their budgets.’
A South London Healthcare NHS Trust spokesman said: 'The Children and Young Person's Assessment Unit is a service which was fully consulted on publically and supported by an independent clinical review as part of a major service reconfiguration in outer south London.
'To date it has reduced admissions to A&E for children and has proved popular with local patients and there have been no issues at all about the quality of the service.
'The trust has a duty to make sure that its services are known to patients and advertises them appropriately, whether it is through flyers and leaflets or by spending money on direct advertising which we always seek to avoid. it is not unknown to be criticised for inadequately making patients aware of important local services and we are very keen to avoid that happening.'