NHS chair: ‘We cannot provide everything we want for Croydon’

So this is how NHS health cuts are to be implemented by Croydon GPs: officials put out a list to the public, and when the “savings” are announced, they will say that this was the people’s choice. JAMES KILLDARE, health correspondent, reports

On the record: which NHS prescriptions do you want to have stopped?

On the record: which NHS prescriptions do you want to have stopped?

Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, the body which manages the area’s GP surgeries, is passing the buck to the patients it serves to determine how to make yet another £5 million-worth of “savings” – they really mean cuts – in what has become a postcode lottery of NHS provision in south London.

Croydon CCG openly admit that they’ve been handed the shitty end of another NHS cost-cutting exercise, expected to implement nearly £6 million more cuts this year, on top of almost £13 million reductions in spending from last year. And now they want the public to volunteer some sort of justification for the latest cut-backs in the prescriptions that are provided.

In a statement issued last week, Croydon CCG said, “Prescribing in Croydon eats up £42.8million each year, 9 per cent of the £465 million local health budget. The CCG was placed in special measures in July this year, and needs to save a further £5.7 million on top of existing plans to save £12.7 million this year.

“In total this is just under 4 per cent of the CCG’s total commissioning budget of £475.4million for 2016-2017.”

Among the prescribed treatments proposed to be cut are gluten-free foods, vitamin D, baby milk and self-care medications, offering savings of up to £600,000 each year.

Of themselves, such items do not appear to be vital health-enhancing measures – unless, of course, you are one of the people, or the parent of a child, for whom such provision is a vital part of your daily care.

Croydon’s CCG is coming very close here to abandoning one of the core principles stated in the founding of the NHS almost 70 years ago: that health care in this country should be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.

Dr Anthony Brzezicki: implementing cuts

Dr Anthony Brzezicki: implementing cuts

The CCG does state that, “some groups of people with particular conditions would be exempt from these changes”, adding, “The CCG states that the products they intend to stop prescribing are now widely available at a reasonably low cost both online and in local shops.”

Of course, it makes sense for GPs not to prescribe any drug, at a cost to the NHS budget, which might be readily obtained, more cheaply and directly by the patient. But it does seem odd that our local CCG had not implemented such a move previously, as a matter of routine good management.

“Increasing demands on NHS services means that we cannot provide everything we want for the people of Croydon,” is the frank admission of Dr Tony Brzezicki, the clinical chair of NHS Croydon CCG.

“We have to prioritise and make tough decisions to secure the future of local health services for everyone.

“Our proposals to stop prescribing a number of products will not affect everybody. We want to work to make sure local people with the greatest need would not be affected by these changes.”

What Croydon CCG calls an “engagement period” – because little the public has to say will make any difference to the extent of the cuts which have to be implemented – runs until January 6.

A public meeting to discuss the proposals will be held at 6pm to 8pm on December 13, and you can register to attend at www.croydonccg.nhs.uk, where the full range of proposals are also published.

“NHS Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group will consider the feedback from local people at a meeting in public of their Governing Body in early 2017,” they say.

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