With a predicted overspend running into tens of millions of pounds, NHS England have called in the auditors who may force through more cuts/”efficiency savings” to the already woefully underfunded East Cheshire Health economy which is already extremely efficient.
The fat has already been cut. The faceless money men are now coming for the flesh and bones.
Here is an educated guess as to what the future could hold for your local NHS Services if nothing changes and further unfair rationing of healthcare in East Cheshire is allowed:
- Longer waiting times to see a GP. This is probably not news to you but it will become MUCH worse (We are haemorrhaging British trained GPs who no longer wish to work in such a fraught environment).
- Longer waiting times to see a nurse (We are haemorrhaging nurses who no longer wish to work in such a fraught environment).
- Longer hospital waiting times.
- Limits to what your doctor can prescribe you -They may stop us prescribing some of the higher cost (but more effective) drugs despite NICE guidance saying we should!! Again, due to an unfair funding allocation, East Cheshire patients get less quality care, when just moving a few miles out of area will mean you can have the NICE approved treatment.
- Limits to what your GP and local hospital can treat you for with overt rationing of healthcare. This may mean they will stop paying GPs for doing blood tests, minor surgery, etc. with the result that patients will have to travel to hospital for even the simplest tests and investigations.The local hospitals are already heaving with patients and this very short sighted move will make it even harder for the hard-working taxpayers of Cheshire to get essential investigations conveniently at their GP surgeries.
- Longer wait times to get scans and blood tests.
- Longer times to get a diagnosis and longer waits for hospital treatment. There may even be suggestions of a stop to Elective operations (like hips and hernias).
- Closure of your local GP surgery or a severe reduction in the services they offer- If you thought getting an appointment is hard now, it’ll only get worse.
- Loss of community clinics and services ; potentially looking at the closure of sites like Knutsford, Congleton and Handforth- again this is ill thought out as this will just increase the waiting times at the main hospitals and local GP surgeries.
- Greater travelling times to hospitals in other areas.
- The potential for charging to be introduced for increasingly rationed services. They may introduce charges like paying to see your GP!
- Scaling back of mental health services.
- Disproportionately large cuts to rural health service.
- Introduction of means testing for continuing healthcare (NHS continuing healthcare is a package of care arranged and funded solely by the NHS. It is awarded depending on whether a person’s primary need is a health need or not). This may mean longer delays in getting the funding and restricting choices for people who do get the funding to cheaper out-of-area nursing homes. Your loved ones could be shipped out to cheaper areas to save money…
- Make it harder to access services like those available to frail elderly people by increasing the threshold for treatment- so in East Cheshire you’ll have to be sicker to get the same treatment as someone from another CCG.
- Stopping or severely curtailing patient transport by making it harder to qualify for it – again stupid and short term thinking as this will lead to longer stays in hospital and longer delays because people can’t get to diagnostic appointments!
- Stopping or severely curtailing programmes to improve quality of care – this is very short term thinking. East Cheshire is great at keeping people healthy for longer and cutting this will just result in more ill people in a system not capable of managing them!
- Much needed IT improvements are beginning to allow joined up patient records across the NHS. Stopping or severely curtailing IT Improvements will impact on joined up NHS care. This is such short term thinking again – crucial information about patients’ health is essential to ensure seamless care across GP, Hospital, ambulance and mental health services- “But that costs too much” – so let’s get everyone reinventing the wheel so we can balance the books, forgetting the destructive effect this is having on seriously ill patients in their moment of need.