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Appeal to Health Secretary to help with NHS staff in North Yorkshire

County appeals to Health Secretary to help with NHS staff

Published by The Stray FM News Team at 6:13am 20th March 2018. (Updated at 10:48am 20th March 2018)

A health watchdog is set to press the Health Secretary for help in tackling NHS staff shortages in a county which is also facing a £40m deficit.

North Yorkshire’s scrutiny of health committee chairman Councillor Jim Clark said despite initiatives to attract people to low-paid work in the care industry, concerns were mounting ahead of Brexit about the county’s reliance on overseas nurses.

Councillor Clark said while it was deeply concerning that the county’s NHS budget deficit had doubled over the past five years and many of its causes had not been addressed, it was vital that action was taken to ensure care could be provided.

He told a meeting of the committee:

“I don’t think Jeremy Hunt appreciates the seriousness of the situation. You can put numbers on that people have a massive deficit, but I think the workforce issues are more crucial to the delivery of service.”

Health bosses say North Yorkshire faces competition in the recruitment of staff from cities such as Newcastle and Leeds, where many workers preferred to be based.

Other issues facing the county’s NHS include the government funding formula, which is weighted towards deprived places, rather than areas with a high proportion of elderly residents – towards whom much of the NHS budget is spent – such as North Yorkshire.

Councillor Clark said the county council had written to Mr Hunt five years ago with reservations about what would happen in North Yorkshire when GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) replaced primary care trusts in deciding how NHS funds should be spent locally.

The meeting was told at the time the Health Secretary said he was ‘keeping a watching brief on the financial crisis afflicting NHS services in York and North Yorkshire’, but had no plans to intervene.

Cllr Clark said:

“If you look at where we have come in the five years, we have a health service that is run in a very complicated way. We have five CCGs, we have seven district councils, two upper tier authorities, three sustainability and transformation partnerships and now have three accountable care organisations that will come into being on April 1.

“In the meantime, the deficit that is forecast for two weeks time has gone up to £40m. So we face major challenges in this county that are not faced in other parts of the country and that is the challenge that is before us. I’m not sure how well things will pan  out.”

Councillor Clark said one way of saving the county’s NHS money would be to reduce the number of CCGs by one or two.

Consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers is examining capacity and capability in the county’s CCGs, but Councillor Clark said he was not optimistic about the money-saving proposals they would produce.

He said another consultancy, KPMG, produced a money-saving report five years ago which North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust rejected having paid the firm £320,000 “to not produce any answers at all”.

Councillor Clark told the committee:

“It is very important that we appreciate the importance of the situation that we are in, the number of beds that are being lost and the number of cuts that are taking place.”

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporter

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