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Barking and Dagenham health experts proposing to cut cataract surgery, osteopathy and minor prescriptions to save money

PUBLISHED: 13:30 11 October 2017

A GP checking a patient's blood pressure. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images

A GP checking a patient's blood pressure. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Barking and Dagenham’s healthcare commissioners are asking for the public’s thoughts on plans to stop funding minor procedures such as cataract surgery and osteopathy.

In a presentation to Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham councillors on Tuesday, the borough’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) discussed ways in which the local NHS needed to balance its books.

The proposals, which are subject to a full public consultation, involve reducing funding for osteopathy, ear wax removal and cataract surgery, and would save around £4million a year.

A deputation of osteopaths from Redbridge, led by Stacey Bourne, spoke out at the meeting against their lack of involvement in the consultation, claiming the questionnaire that had been drawn up was “inaccurate and misleading”.

Further plans to stop GPs from prescribing cheap and easily available medicines such as sleeping tablets, hay fever medicine and sunscreens were also discussed – a move that experts hope will save the local NHS £575,280 a year.

Louise Mitchell, representing the CCGs at the meeting, emphasised that these proposals were not set in stone.

She said: “We would encourage all stakeholders to formally respond to the consultation itself, because that is how we will gather evidence from patients, the public and service providers.

“Across the three boroughs we have an aging population with more people living with multiple long term conditions and the demand for services increases every year.

“The wider context of all of that is that we are in financial deficit and are legally required to balance our budget.”

Across the three boroughs, the CCGs need to make savings of £55million in the next financial year – a task that essentially means they must cut 5pc of their annual budget.

An eight-week consultation held earlier this year on the first batch of money-saving proposals received more than 660 responses.

Two thirds of the plans were eventually agreed by the CCGs’ governing bodies and the plans, which are estimated to save around £3million, took effect from July 10.

The most controversial change so far is that the groups will only pay for one IVF embryo transfer instead of three.

Breast enhancement surgeries, face lifts and varicose vein surgery have also been stopped.

An online consultation on the proposals can be completed at www.barkingdagenhamccg.nhs.uk/spending-wisely and paper copies of the questionnaire will be available at GPs’ surgeries.

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