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'Difficult choices ahead' as health bosses look to make savings

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Published by The Stray FM News Team at 7:01am 24th August 2016. (Updated at 7:12am 24th August 2016)

Health services in Harrogate District are being reviewed, as the local clinical commissioning group warns it doesn't have enough money to keep up with demand. 

Harrogate and Rural District CCG has revealed how nationwide NHS financial pressures are affecting their local commissioning plans.

It says although the funding to the NHS has not reduced, the rise in demand for health services and increasing costs outstrips the money available.

Each year, the CCG is allocated money from Government based on the size of the local population. It says with no extra money available its limited budget is stretched further as demand for healthcare increases.

The CCG has plans in place for an £8.4 million shortfall for 2016/17 but with costs continuing to rise, it's preparing further plans to bridge the budget gap.

Harrogate and the rural district has a growing and ageing population, which the CCG says causes a significant increase in demand for all types of local health services. An increase in demand at A&E is also adding to the pressure.

Rick Sweeney, Governing Body member at the CCG said: "The challenge for the CCG is to spend the financial allocation differently. As an organisation we have a number of difficult choices to make about what is affordable for the whole of our local population against an ever increasing demand for access to health services. We are reviewing all areas of spend including the services we purchase, the medicines prescribed, outpatient appointments and operations.

"Getting medicine on prescription costs much more than buying over the counter due to the time doctors and local pharmacists take when dealing with appointments, handling prescriptions and dispensing medication. Last year, over 3 million items were prescribed to patients across Harrogate and the rural district at a cost of over £25 million."

Proposals being discussed include no longer providing 'over the counter' medicines like paracetamol which last year cost the NHS locally £260,000 to prescribe. 

Amanda Bloor, Chief Officer at the CCG says the organisation will focus its effort on ensuring tax payers receive value for money when confronting these difficult challenges.

She said: "Like many neighbouring CCGs across North Yorkshire, we are facing unprecedented challenges as demand from an ageing and growing population increases. As the commissioners of local health services we are asking you, the residents of Harrogate and the rural district to play your part in helping us to address the challenge. It is important that everyone using the NHS appreciates the pressures it faces through growing demand and cost and takes responsibility for using it most effectively so we can help secure high quality local health services.

"The CCG is working to identify as many efficiency savings as it can. This will mean a renewed focus on self-care and healthy lifestyle choices by individuals and may include reduction or withdrawal of certain services that do not improve outcomes.

"Everyone is aware that public services and specifically the NHS are under significant pressure, and I would encourage local people to help the CCG ensure we can continue to deliver the services needed for local people within the budget we are given from Government.

"We will be working closely with our partners including Healthwatch North Yorkshire to determine how we can secure services within the funding available." 

The CCG is encouraging people to come to attend their next public meeting on the 20th September. 

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