Extra £5m boost for county health services 'not enough'

Oxford Mail: . .

CASH-strapped health services in Oxfordshire are to receive almost £5m.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been awarded the extra cash as it grapples with a potential funding blackhole just months after it was set up by the Government.

It has not yet been revealed what the money will be used for.

But although the announcement that the CCG will receive an extra £4.7m to add to its £650m budget next year has been welcomed, some have warned not enough is being done to deal with rising demand.

The group is currently expected to have a deficit of £11.1m by the end of the year and will have to spend all of its £6.9m of reserves to meet its budget requirements.

The extra funding was announced by NHS England, which said funding for commissioning groups – GP-led authorities which buy health services on behalf of areas of the country – was rising nationally from £96bn to £100bn.

Patient Voice chairwoman Jacquie Pearce-Gervis said: “I think every little helps. It is obviously not enough, but if it will help the financial situation in any way then it is welcome.

“I think more could definitely be done. Oxfordshire has been under-funded for years.”

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CCG spokesman Julia Stackhouse said the announcement of funding allocations was good news for the group.

She said: “OCCG will receive an additional 0.78 per cent or £4.7m. How we use this additional funding will be explored as part of our financial and operational planning for the next financial year and beyond.

“OCCG remains in an extremely challenging financial position due to the cost of demand for healthcare services in the county.

“We remain focused on working with our partners to ensure that services are delivered more efficiently and effectively.”

Paul Baumann, chief financial officer for NHS England, said: “Some areas have not had the funding per head that they need, particularly where population has grown quickly and funding has remained relatively static. These areas are now at risk of not being able to provide the services needed by their population, so we need to tackle these differences in funding as a matter of urgency.

“That is exactly what these changes are about and this will mean that some local health services need to receive a settlement that is bigger than inflation to start reducing the local underfunding which has arisen, whether this reflects deprivation, ageing or population growth.

“Over the last year we have developed and refined the funding formulae to ensure that they accurately predict the needs of individual communities.

“A particular challenge in this respect is the best way to reflect the needs of the most deprived communities, who may not currently be accessing the services they need at the right time.

“The new formula now includes a measure for ‘unmet need’ which aims to address this.

“This is a very testing period for the NHS and every pound we spend needs to be invested wisely to drive the best outcomes for the patients and communities we serve. We now have a funding formula that we think does this more accurately and more fairly.”

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