Cuts could hit fer­til­ity ser­vices

Middleton Guardian - - WILDLIFE - NICK STATHAM

FER­TIL­ITY ser­vices in Mid­dle­ton could be cut as health chiefs look to fill a £12m fi­nan­cial short­fall – amid warn­ings bud­get pres­sures are ‘be­gin­ning to bite’.

Mid­dle­ton bosses are con­sid­er­ing re­duc­ing the num­ber of free IVF cy­cles it of­fers as part of a ma­jor sav­ings drive.

Pa­tients are cur­rently en­ti­tled to three cy­cles, but this could be re­duced to one, as else­where in Greater Man­ches­ter.

No de­ci­sion can be made be­fore a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, which will be launched in the com­ing weeks.

Mid­dle­ton has merged its health and so­cial care ser­vices, but the pooled fund which pays for both is fac­ing a sig­nif­i­cant gap in the com­ing fi­nan­cial year.

Hey­wood, Mid­dle­ton and Rochdale Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Groups bosses say have found £5m of sav­ings for next year – which can be put in place im­me­di­ately if signed off by chiefs later this month.

And, as some of these sav­ings are on­go­ing, this would also put a dent in the 2020/21 bud­get gap – cur­rently es­ti­mated to be £12.7m.

But this still leaves a gap of more than £7m in 2019-20 – which can only be filled by ei­ther cut­ting some ser­vices al­to­gether, or ‘sig­nif­i­cantly chang­ing’ them.

These ad­di­tional sav­ings – likely to prove con­tro­ver­sial – can only be made af­ter a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, sched­uled to be­gin early next month.

CCG bosses have con­firmed that IVF is one area they are look­ing at as they strive to bal­ance the health and so­cial care bud­get.

The out­come of the con­sul­ta­tion will be pre­sented to health and coun­cil chiefs at an In­te­grated Com­mis­sion­ing Board meet­ing in Fe­bru­ary.

At at a meet­ing of HMR CCG’s gov­ern­ing body, chief fi­nance of­fi­cer Sam Evans stressed the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion – telling the board that the mea­sures be­ing con­sid­ered were un­prece­dented.

She said: “This is very much where it’s start­ing to bite be­cause we’ve never been in the po­si­tion of de­com­mis­sion­ing ser­vices.”

Ms Evans told the com­mit­tee that, although re­hab cen­tre had been cut last year, there were mea­sures in place to com­pen­sate for that.

“We are now get­ting into the bite and that’s why there will have to be pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on some of these things,” she added.

Her re­port to the board stresses that the £12m gap is a ‘best es­ti­mate’ as it was not yet known how much money would be al­lo­cated to the pooled fund, or the re­sult of some ne­go­ti­a­tions.

And Ms Evans added that HMR CCG was also wait­ing on na­tional guid­ance that tells bosses ‘from this money you must do’.

She said: “Ev­ery­body talks about the ad­di­tional monies com­ing into the NHS, but we haven’t de­ter­mined what we have to do with that money yet. And we also haven’t started con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with Pen­nine Acute (which runs Rochdale In­fir­mary).”

And although the CCG an­tic­i­pates an on­go­ing sav­ing of £1.3m per year can be achieved through rene­go­ti­at­ing con­tracts, Ms Evans sounded a note of cau­tion.

“We have got these fig­ures as part of con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion but our providers will come back with counter of­fers – it’s very much a ne­go­ti­a­tion and noth­ing is in the bag.”

Ne­go­ti­a­tions will be car­ried out by Greater Man­ches­ter north east sec­tor CCGs, which in­cludes Bury, Old­ham and North Man­ches­ter.

Some £1.6m of cuts have also been found for the 2020/21 fi­nan­cial year which, to­gether with on­go­ing sav­ings, would bring its gap down to £5.8m.

Sam Evans, chief fi­nance of­fi­cer, Hey­wood, Mid­dle­ton and Rochdale CCG

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