More health cuts may be on the way

NHS bosses in Wigan have warned that the increasing costs of social care and prescriptions for the borough's population may spark the need for more savings this year.

Wednesday, 29th November 2017, 10:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th November 2017, 11:18 am
The NHS

An extra £1.1m is expected to be spent on community health services for 2017-18, according to Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group.

And the scarcity of popular drugs is another unknown factor as the CCG looks to generate a statutory surplus for the financial year.

Clinical commissioners have entered into an performance-based contract with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, worth £4m, for acute services.

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And finance chiefs have indicated to the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care panel that there may be a need for a £3m contribution from their “risk register” going forward - though a number of other county NHS bodies are also said to be seeking assistance and there is only limited funds.

Around £750,000 of the social care overspend has been attributed to the rising cost of personal health budgets, with another £200,000 thought to result from supported living patients.

Several acute hospital budgets are also currently overspent - with the Lancashire Teaching Hospital contract £296,000 in the red due to vascular operations, a £260,000 deficit with St Helens and Knowsley hospitals due to plastic surgery and day surgery cases and a £230,000 gap with the Ramsay hospitals group in Central Lancashire, for pain management and anaesthetics day cases.

Board members have been told that one key issue for the prescribing budget is what is known as NCSO (No Cheaper Stock Obtainable) drugs, such as the epilepsy treatment gabapentin and supply issues with common anti-psychotic medicines such as quetiapine and olanzapine.

In a report to the CCG board, finance director Mike Tate said: “The continued growth in costs associated with Continuing Health Care packages alongside the further national increases to NCSO drugs prices has placed significant extra strain on the financial position.

“Due to these issues and the other issues highlighted in this report there remains a significantly increased risk that the CCG’s statutory financial surplus will not be achieved without the identification and delivery of additional budgetary savings or borrowings. These would in turn impact on the financial plan for 2018/19.”

Last week Wigan Council and NHS bosses insisted they were on track to carve a colossal £98m out of health and social care services in the next four years.

If health chiefs can ensure fewer people end up in hospital and seek treatment in GP surgeries instead, the funding gap can be bridged, they say.

For the last financial year that gap was £40.6m - and with an ageing population and greater social care demands that could extend to £98m by 2020-21, according to commissioners.

More than £36m has been allocated by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Fund, towards the “transformation” of frontline health and care home provisions. And various aspects of The Deal are expected to chip in with more than £27m of assistance over the same period.