Derbyshire health chiefs have signed off on unprecedented multi-million-pound cutbacks, along with a landmark merger of the county’s main NHS organisations.
On Thursday, at a meeting of the four Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the county’s NHS leadership approved plans to make £69.5 million in “savings” (cuts) by next April.
This comes after a year in which it has already carried out £51 million in cutbacks in its billion-pound-plus budget.
A decision was also sealed to merge the four CCGs (Erewash, Hardwick, North Derbyshire and Southern Derbyshire) into one organisation. The new organisation is set to be called Derby and Derbyshire CCG – although governors have said that they would like this to be changed to Derbyshire CCG.
It is hoped that forming the new organisation will make it easier to make large amounts of “savings” (cuts), make it more efficient, and improve the consistency of quality and procedure across the county.
Dr Paul Wood, chairman of Southern Derbyshire CCG, said that “just like mining for gold, the new organisation comes out of a lot of tonnes of rock, or in this case out of a tonne of paper”. He said: “When the CCGs were formed there was a lot of optimism and possible some naivety. It was already apparent how much the four organisations had to work together, but that need has become even more apparent.”
CCGs were created following the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, and replaced Primary Care Trusts on April 1, 2013. The new merged CCG will have a budget of £1.65 billion this year, and will oversee 450 staff, 116 GP practices and more than a million patients.
A single executive team, led by Dr Chris Clayton, has been in place since 2016, to pave the way for the merger.
This changeover saw six executive staff lose their jobs – with the combined pay-out in redundancy “exit packages” totalling £963,024.
Dr Avi Bhatia, current chairman of Erewash CCG and a Long Eaton GP, will be the chair of the merged organisation.
He said that improvements must be made to ensure a better experience for patients that would see them “explaining their story to one person, once, instead of to many different people in the NHS”.
Dr Bhatia continued: “There are advantages to being small and advantages to being large, but it is really important that we make the best of this, take the best bits of the current organisations and take them forward.”
He said that part of this must include “open and honest communication with the public”.
The financial savings/cuts the organisation is to carry out will involve “some really quite difficult decisions”.
It is planning more cuts than it actually needs to make in case of any areas which fail to produce savings. The organisation must save £69.5 million, but has planned £83 million just in case.
Of the cuts to come this year, the largest single proportion will come in medicine management at £12.8 million. This will entail a focus on medicine which is not only low-cost but also more effective.
Most of the organisation’s £1.65 billion budget will be spent on acute services (short but severe treatment, such as in A&E) at £811 million, followed by mental health services on £178 million, prescribing on £143 million and community services, £131 million.