On March 6 , I emailed both the chairman and the chief officer of NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (the NHS body that allocates funding to Norfolk GP surgeries) pointing out that I had been unable to find any reference in the agendas and papers of their January and February public meetings to the funding cuts (approximately £500,000 over four years) being imposed on Vida Healthcare – cuts which will impact negatively on patient services at six surgeries in Lynn, Dersingham, Hunstanton and Downham.
I am still awaiting a satisfactory explanation as to why information about these funding cuts, covering well over 30,000 Norfolk patients, was not shown in the meeting papers and why patients have not been consulted before any decision was made.
And although NHS West Norfolk CCG regularly holds what it terms Community Engagement Forum meetings as far as I am aware, there has been no information whatsoever provided at these meetings by WNCCG officers over the funding cuts being made to Norfolk surgeries. Why? How on earth are patients and public supposed to have their say on local healthcare issues if NHS WNCCG withholds crucial information from them about funding cuts to their surgeries at its community engagement meetings?
CCGs were originally set up to give GPs more control over how primary care was operated and funded. However, GPs have been sidelined in the past few years, and will soon be prevented from voting on many primary care committees – a retrograde step. GPs have a very much better grasp of the needs and demands of frontline care than anyone else. It really is reprehensible that they should now be further sidelined from being involved in vital decisions that affect their patients.
Crucially, both Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England have a statutory duty under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, to involve public, patients and carers in the planning, development and implementation of decisions which would be likely to impact on the range of GP services available to them as patients. As a Vida surgery patient ( and a Vida Patient Group representative) I am not aware of any attempts by these NHS organisations to consult my fellow 30,000-plus patients about the cuts to our surgeries .
Dan O’Connor, Nile Road, Downham Market