£50m health cuts target

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WIGAN’S health trusts will have to make an estimated £50m savings over the next three years due to cutbacks.

That’s despite an extra £8m being added to Wigan’s budget for the coming year (2014/15) taking it to £411m.

A report being presented to the Wigan Health and Wellbeing Board today reveals the grim reality of cuts to public spending. Since April 2013 the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) – a body made up of GPs across the borough – is responsible for the budget of all aspects of healthcare in the borough.

Together with the hospital trust (Wrightington Wigan Leigh NSH Foundation Trust) the mental health trust (5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) the community healthcare trust (Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust) and the local authority (Wigan Council) the CCG will all have to try to make savings totalling £50m.

Chief officer of WBCCG Trish Anderson said: “It is clear that the savings we together have to achieve are challenging and ambitious, but we are confident that by working in partnership and planning carefully, we can not only meet these challenges, but also improve the experiences of the people who receive any health or social care services across the borough.

“To achieve this we must and are thinking differently. We are focusing on integrated, joined-up care led by GPs that places the patient at the centre of decision-making about the care they receive.

“By taking this approach and planning for the long term, we are confident we can achieve the ambitious targets set and maintain safe, sustainable health and social care services.”

Cost-saving measures include the controversial Healthier Together programme which has been criticised by the Wigan Healthwatch group.

Health chiefs say the programme was introduced across Greater Manchester to reduce costs and improving the effectiveness of hospital services.

However, Sir Ian McCartney, chair of Healthwatch accused NHS chiefs are wasting £3m on the programme.

He said: “The bottom line is that there is no bottom line - they have been given a huge blank cheque to cut back local emergency services.

“We have been flabbergasted for some time over the lack of real information about the secretive way the NHS top brass’ has gone about preparing the biggest upheaval in local services since the setting up the NHS at Trafford Hospital in 1948.”

Other measures include the ‘integrated care’ model which aims to provide more care in the community.

As part of this the CCG are working with Wigan Council to develop a Better Care Fund which will see, in 2015, £22m of funding placed in a joint fund to support development of integrated care.

Further updates on the plans are expected in March.

A spokesman for all five health bodies involved in the savings plan said: “The public sector organisations involved in delivering health and social care across Wigan and Leigh face a number of challenges.

“With a population that is ageing and increasingly suffering from multiple long term conditions that will limit the length of their life, the demands for services are anticipated to rise leading to an increase in the borough’s cost of health care.

“At the same time, efficiencies must be made by all organisations to achieve significant financial savings.

“A significant proportion of the savings that need to be made by WWL, Bridgewater and the 5 Boroughs, will contribute to the £50m that WBCC must save from the overall Wigan Health Economy budget.

“It is essential that the borough has safe, sustainable health and social care provision. To tackle the challenges all partner organisations are working together to plan for the next five years and beyond.

“To meet the needs of the people of Wigan borough, keep the quality of care high, and to make carefully planned efficiency savings at the same time, we must start to do things differently and transform the way all our services are delivered.

“This means developing better, more integrated and cost effective care where more services are provided in the communities, closer to people’s homes and the visits and services of health and social care professionals are co-ordinated to reduce duplication.

“The CCG and WWL, are also involved in a programme of work considering how hospitals across Greater Manchester might be able co-ordinate services to provide higher standards of care at lower cost.”