NHS Finance Chief Claims “Easy Ride” on Derbyshire Cuts

Derbyshire “has been given an easy ride” where healthcare cuts are concerned, claims a regional NHS finance chief.

Paul Briddock, director of finance for NHS England in the North Midlands, made the statement during a health scrutiny committee today (Monday, November 26) at Derbyshire County Council.

Mr Briddock had been summoned by the committee’s chairman, Cllr David Taylor, to shed light on the proposed £51 million in cuts set to be carried out by the county’s four Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). These are the organisations responsible for the planning and commissioning of healthcare services in the county.

After amassing a huge £95 million deficit, the four CCGs have been asked to make cuts of £51 million by April next year. The remaining £44 million – known as the control total – will then effectively be written off by national NHS leaders.

Mr Briddock, who has worked in the NHS for 25 years, said that this control total is one of the highest in the UK, with other organisations having to make much harsher levels of savings. He said that the original figure for Derbyshire had been a lower control total – which would have meant additional cuts in the next few months, but this was negotiated up to £44 million. Mr Briddock said that the required savings totalled 3.3 per cent of the annual £1.5 billion budget, below the national average among other CCGs of 3.7 per cent and far below the highest amount of five per cent.

He said: “You may feel it is hard but, really, it is not that bad. Derbyshire has been given an easy ride. If I were one of these other organisations, I would be asking why Derbyshire is being allowed to write-off so much money. But that is just me playing devil’s advocate.”

Cllr Dave Allen, said: “The CCG is in the difficult position of cutting budgets and improving services – all at pace. Chris Clayton (chief executive of the Derbyshire CCGs) thinks he is doing his job right just by telling us what is going on. He doesn’t think it is our job to look into all of this. It appears that cuts have been made since last March, and that is quite a surprise from our point of view. We are still due to have the detail for which we have asked and we can’t seem to get the answers we are looking for. Once these cuts have been made, it will be impossible to go back to the level of service we once had. There is a frustration about all of this, and we have been lead up the garden path – lead astray.”

Mr Briddock later said: “I will make it clear with the CCG that they are not being transparent enough.”
He said it was not appropriate “to use the word cuts all the time” when all NHS organisations were required to make financial recovery and savings plans – often referred to as QIPP.
Cllr Sean Bambrick said: “I know you don’t like the word ‘cuts’, but that is what we are getting.”
Cllr Gary Musson asked again that any “major disinvestment” decisions were put off until after the proposed merger of the four Derbyshire CCGs into one organisations.
He felt that the required “efficiencies” could be achieved through that process.
Mr Briddock told the committee that other CCGs are also going through mergers alongside these cuts.
He said that Derbyshire’s merger of four organisations is trumped by another looking to connect six, which also has a larger amount of savings to make.

Mr Briddock said: “There is never enough money to spend on health and we are always looking at better technology, or better medication to improve services and make up for that. I wish there was enough money, but that is not the way the world works.”

Cllr David Taylor stated that the committee would reconvene for another debate on the issue on Monday, January 21.

Eddie Bisknell (LDRS)

Eddie writes for Nailed through the Local Democracy Reporting Service, in partnership with the BBC. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a partnership of media outlets sharing reporters to cover council meetings.

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