Notts doctor says 'cost-cutting is being put ahead of patient safety'
A DOCTOR has hit out at the way the new healthcare system is run by saying he is being asked to prioritise making financial savings ahead of safeguarding patients’ health.
Dr Ian Campbell, a GP in Carlton, penned a letter to 6,000 patients saying that doctors and nurses were being “pushed beyond the point of safety” and “asked to take risks with your health in order to save money”.
The Government’s shake-up of the NHS has abolished what were formally known as primary care trusts and replaced them with clinical commissioning groups – which are led by GPs, and buy in healthcare services for their particular area.
He wrote: “We were not unhappy with the way things were organised previously, but this re-organisation has been imposed upon us. It was one of those “sign or resign” situations, ie we had no choice if we wanted to continue to provide GP services.”
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The GP, who works at Park House Medical Centre in Carlton, said that his particular clinical commissioning group, which caters for around 145,000 people, had overspent its budget.
He added: “Put simply, we are spending more money on patient care than we are allowed.
“We have been told that we, at Park House, along with many other practices in Nottinghamshire, have to reduce costs immediately. Specifically, what this means is that we are being compelled to reduce referrals to specialists in hospital, reduce A&E attendances, and reduce hospital admissions.”
“What this means to you, our patients, is that you may no longer be entitled to a hospital doctor’s opinion even if you, and we, think it appropriate.”
A statement from the CCG said: “Nottingham North and East received an allocation of approximately £160million from NHS Nottinghamshire County for the year 2012/13 and will end this financial year with a balanced budget, having used contingency reserves to enable us to do so.
“For the year 2013/14, Nottingham North and East CCG will have a budget of £164.5 million, which represents a 2.3% funding increase in line with other CCGs across the country.
“All CCGs are required to make savings of around 2-3% in the new financial year and each CCG will have its individual challenges based on demographics and local needs. We need to achieve savings of just over 3% next year, which approximates to £4million.
“One of the challenges faced nationally is that of reducing the number of referrals to hospital. For GPs, in the vast majority of situations it is clear cut as to whether a patient needs to go to the hospital or not but there is a grey area where some GPs will refer and others would keep the case in the community.
“The GP practices that form the CCG are therefore working together, as clinicians, to discuss, above all, how best to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients when addressing this particular challenge.”