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Council leader calls for meeting with health chief

Published: 27 July 2018

The Derbyshire County Council Leader has demanded urgent talks with a Derbyshire health chief after learning of NHS plans to cut funding to local voluntary sector organisations.

Councillor Barry Lewis said he was “surprised and dismayed” to discover the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were proposing to completely cut the money they give to support local voluntary and community groups.

And he called on the CCGs’ chief executive Dr Chris Clayton to reconsider his plans and urged him to meet with our cabinet members for adult care and health and communities to discuss the impact of the cuts.

Councillor Lewis said:

“If this goes ahead, it could put the whole voluntary sector at risk.

“Local community and voluntary groups do an amazing job on the ground, supporting Derbyshire’s most vulnerable people with an army of volunteers.

“If the CCGs pull this funding, it would have a major impact on the very things the NHS is trying to reduce, such as delays in getting people home from hospital and unnecessary admissions to hospital.”

The proposed cuts of £1.2 million are part of plans by the Derbyshire CCGs who are the organisations that buy health services for the county. The cuts are to address a funding shortfall of £80 million. If they go ahead, it would affect 26 Derbyshire charities and community groups delivering more than 40 services for the county’s most vulnerable residents.

In his letter to Dr Clayton, Councillor Lewis said:

“This is an incredibly inept and short-sighted proposal."

Adding that it flew “in the face” of the Derbyshire Joined Up Care Plan, an NHS-led initiative to integrate health and social care in the county.

“I am not convinced you have looked at this in the round and the long-term impact driving demand up,”

And while Councillor Lewis acknowledged the significant financial challenges faced by the local CCGs, he pointed out that, unlike the council, the NHS had received significant budget increases. He said:

“We all have to live within our means, but it is our public duty to make long-term, sensible decisions that improve the life experiences of our communities.”

Many of the voluntary organisations funded by the Derbyshire CCGs are also supported by us. Organisations facing possible cuts by the CCGs include:

  • South Derbyshire CVS, which supports dozens of local voluntary and community groups to deliver a wide range of services including a befriending scheme, lunch clubs and transport for people to medical appointments
  • Chesterfield-based Derbyshire Voluntary Action which helps around 300 small charities and voluntary-led community groups, including mental health support groups, self-help groups and services for older and vulnerable residents
  • Age UK Derby and Derbyshire which runs memory sessions for people with dementia

Dr Clayton has agreed to meet Councillor Jean Wharmby, our cabinet member for adult care, and Councillor Carol Hart, cabinet member for health and communities, on 2 August 2018.

Councillor Hart, who is responsible for public health, said she was “very concerned” to hear of the proposals. She said:

“These cuts would have a major impact.

“If we are going to work in partnership to improve the health of people in Derbyshire in the future we need to work together.

“Many of these groups rely on volunteers to carry out invaluable work, and where would we be without them?”

Councillor Wharmby said while the funding for charities and community groups was relatively small, the impact would be significant. She said:

“It seems very short sighted that at a time of growing demand and with more emphasis on prevention work, the Derbyshire CCGs are proposing to cut grants to the very groups that make such a big difference in local communities.

“Withdrawing funding for these services could lead to an increase in demand for health services. I’d like to see more details of the costs and benefits of these services.

“Some of them are very low cost but bring a high level of benefit to the county’s most vulnerable people.”