Tuesday, 11 June 2013


 Assurances by  the  government  that despite the present  age of austerity-led slash and  burn, the NHS is ring-fenced are just weasel words it seems.  I picked up a leaflet at Holmes Chapel Health Centre the other day that presents a far different picture in this corner of Cheshire. Since April local health services have been managed by a new Eastern Cheshire Clincial Commisioning Group. The Holmes Chapel practice is one of 23 in the group which has  a budget of £221.5 million to buy all  medications and medical care for the population of  East Cheshire. Sounds a lot of  lolly but already the practices fear that they will have overspent by £12.5 million by the end of the financial year.
  The group's gripe - quite rightly - is that it is receiving the smallest amount of cash in the North West despite having one of the largest populations of elderly patients, many in nursing homes, requiring a high use of medical and social services. And the government has totally ignored this in allocating the cash in spite of  promises that handing over control of the budget to local doctors and patients healthcare services would improve. In what doctors say is "grossly unfair" other groups in areas like Chester, Stockport, Manchester and Liverpool  have some 50 per cent more to spend on patients.  So far pleas from the medicos for a further injection of cash have fallen on deaf ears in Whitehall, and now they are turning to patients to front up their local MP - including the chief of slash and burn Chancellor George Osborne - to explain why the government is spending less on their healthcare when they pay the same income tax, national insurance and VAT as  everyone else.
 Doctors say to balance the budget at the end of the year is a tall order and very serious with the only option a major change in the way GP and hospital services operate. Of course, another option would be to give two fingers to the health mandarins and overspend, but the prognosis then is the arrival  of accountants to axe services - no doubt on fat salaries - to balance the books!
 +Fiona Bruce MP (Congleton) email: fiona.bruce.@parliament.uk  George Osborne MP (Tatton) email: public.enquiries@hm-treasury.gov.uk  David Rutley MP (Macclesfield)  email: david.rutley.mp@parliament.uk

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